Caroline in the Delta

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Nov 08 2012

Love Grows

I’ve been sitting in a Little Rock Starbucks for over an hour, with nothing accomplished. Instead I’m chatting with a high school best friend, ran into an old Dumas employee, and ate a pumpkin scone. All I’ve eaten today is a piece of pumpkin cake, and a pumpkin scone. I spent over $300 at TJMaxx buying things like: a rug and picture frames for our living room, drinking glasses and lip gloss for Christmas side-presents, soap for our school bathroom (fancy soap makes us ALL happier), beige loafers and a silk button down for school, and cookies. How it amounted to $300, I’m not sure.

It’s November, and I’ve told more than one person, in these words, “I think I might end up staying a fourth year.”

It’s November, and I’ve told more than one person, in these words, “I am so happy right now, here. I am so happy.”

I drive down the highway and I think, “I am so happy. I love it here.”

I stand before turning off the lights to my classroom, look over my shoulder at the paired desks and pen-pal letters and lists of students earning awards or scolding, and I think, “I am so happy. I love it here.”

My heart feels swollen and soothed, like scar tissue puffing up. Discolored and too much of it, awkward stretch lines and so obviously not how it used to be, but covering the hole. Too sensitive, or a little numb, depending on the day. The more time I have to contemplate the years of my life, to put them into chunks and title them like eras, the more I realize that this is an era of healing.

I can never decide if it’s my life that has been like this, or if it’s an age. If the majority of us have had boyfriends that feel like a sharp slap and deaths that feel like removed organs. If people are as familiar with the word “suicide” as I am, if other people get personally offended when someone’s had too much too drink, like I do. If other people look into the faces of eleven-year-olds and sometimes have to bite their tongues for all the love ready to pour out of their mouths.

I’m not sure how I feel about this, but two of my students have started calling me Mom. Another comes in every morning robotically calling out, “coffee! coffee!” and immediately grasps my mug with two hands, carrying it with us as I walk my class to block. When they enter my room there are probably only two students who give me handshakes anymore, all the rest are hugs, high-fives, or fist bumps. My heart jolts whenever a long-shy student gives me an entering hug for the first time and keeps walking with a huge, timid grin. Like courage has finally prevailed.

Sometimes I itch with the warmth of my life. Right now I itch with poison ivy acquired climbing a tree in the woods last weekend. I’m okay with both.

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