Wednesday, January 27, 2010

And Now, a Surprise

Jesus, I'm happy.

This is good, of course, but it scares the shit out of me. Last night I wrote this in an e-mail to Katy: I want to talk about how happy I am, how I feel like I've been reborn, how it's so different from last semester, but there are things I can't exactly talk about, and I also don't want to tempt fate. I think I am more superstitious than I realize.

The last time I was happy was August, when I was beginning that ended-as-soon-as-it-began ridiculousness with the boy with the great name. You remember him. He was the one who sang to me, kissed me warmly, and waved as I was leaving his house, and then I never heard from him ever again. Like, ever. And then, after I realized I'd been abandoned, that I'd been found lacking, that I'd been fooled, I opened my eyes and realized something else: I was in the middle of the semester from hell. Near the end of it I couldn't quite catch my breath. I was finding it hard to make it through the day. I was waking up and thinking, I can't. I can't do it. Don't make me do it.

And then came the point in the semester where one of my students called me a fucking bitch. This was when everything unraveled for me, when I realized there was no saving the semester. It was ruined.

This was after I'd been giving some notes on apostrophes. I'd had my back to them--I was writing on the board--and one of the boys in the class screamed. I mean screamed. I whirled around, and the boy who screamed was rubbing his arm.

"What happened?" I asked.

"Glenn punched me!" the boy said. He pointed to the kid next to him.

And Glenn looked at me from under the hat he'd pulled low over his forehead. He crossed his arms over his Carhartt. He raised his eyebrows. He dared me to say something.

So I said, "Get out. I don't care why you did what you did. Just get out of my classroom."

"Are you fucking kidding me?" he asked.

"NO," I said. "GET OUT."

And so he grabbed his books, his jacket, and then he stormed toward the door. He whipped the door open. "FUCKING BITCH!" he said, and then he left the classroom. He barreled down the hallway and out into the parking lot, where we could see him get into his truck and tear away from school. He squealed his tires tore around the bend toward the road back to town.

It was the most dramatic exit I'd ever seen in my life. And it made an impact on more than just those of us in class. An hour later, when I was with my creative writing class, one of my students came up to me. She frowned at me--a gesture of pity, really--and nodded. "We heard," she said.

"You heard?"

"We heard that kid leave class. We heard him yelling all the way down the hall. He said some not great stuff about you."

And the whole building got to hear it.

It was a treat. A real treat.

So I don't think it's a surprise to anyone that I couldn't wait to get out of Maine and back to Buffalo for Christmas break. All I wanted to do was sit in a dark bar and drink a whole lot of vodka with all the people I love best, and I wanted to do it repeatedly.

A lot of good things happened over Christmas, and I woke up one morning feeling renewed. Over night, things inside me had slid back into place, and I remembered who I was. In fact, I felt a lot like I did in grad school. I felt young, I felt fun, I felt like I was someone worth spending time with. I didn't feel rotten or awful or miserable. I didn't feel like I was a bad teacher, a boring idiot, a killjoy. I stayed up really, really late and did some inappropriate things and let every nasty thing from the previous semester melt off me.

And now that I'm back in Maine, and now that the spring semester has started, things are looking good. By this time last semester I already knew my classes were going to be bad, that they were filled with some really awful, really mean students, and that it was going to be a struggle to make it through.

But here's what I know about my classes now, after two and a half weeks: They're good. In fact, they're pretty great. I am especially in love with my intermediate creative writing class; it's filled with former students of mine, sweet devoted students who have really amazing things to say, and it's blowing my mind. Things are looking up.

I can't stop dancing. I can't stop singing. (Last Friday, as I was on my way to Portland to have lunch with Emily the radio first played Rosalita and then Cecilia, and I thought I'd died and gone to heaven.)

A former student of mine--one who knew about my woes last semester--stopped me in the hall last week and said, "Holy shit. Look at you! You're so happy!"

And now that I've said it, now that I've written it out loud, now that I've confessed it, I'm terrified. I am superstitious. I don't want the universe to think I'm bragging, I'm boasting, I'm showing off. I don't want it to think, Whoa now. Let's not get carried away.

I don't want any take-backs. I just want to be quiet and happy. I'm not saying I deserve it, but I am saying I'm thankful for it. Dear God, am I ever.

1 comment:

Kristin said...

YAY!!:) I am so glad to hear it. However long it lasts or for whatever reason it is occuring, you deserve it!