Saturday, January 16, 2010

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An old friend recently posted our fourth grade picture on Facebook. I hated my fourth grade teacher. He was rude and thoughtless. I remember yelling at him--several times. (Fourth grade = nine and ten years old.) One specific thing I remember was that he wouldn't let me advance in my times tables until the whole class was ready to move on. Idiot. Another time, I had to stay in from Play Day. I do not remember the crime, but I'm sure it had something to do with my sassy mouth. Now, Play Day was a big deal; something that one would look forward to the whole year. Play Day was the end of the year celebration that included an entire day of outdoor carnival type games and foods. The special item was the foot long hot dog. A very nice boy, Brock Rogers (back row with the Viking ship sweater), snuck a foot long hot dog to me through the window. I was supposed to compose a three page essay about how children should respect their elders. I wrote one page about that . . . and two pages about how people should respect the dignity of deserving people of all ages.

And yet we survived that wretched year. Fourteen of the twenty-five students in that class graduated together. Fourteen dear friends with whom I rode the bus, attended Blue Birds (Campfire's answer to Brownies), watched break bones and vomit, and pick up an instrument for the first time, then become quite good at that same instrument. I know their mothers (they helped us overdose on sugar at every classroom Halloween party), we helped each other through the awkwardness of ages seven through seventeen, and we cheered each for each other as we learned our respective sports. There were a few more of us that went to the same schools from Kindergarten through Graduation who weren't in this particular fourth grade class. We weren't all always close, though I don't recall any major fighting. They each hold a sweet place in my heart--my longest friends. Different from family and most I haven't seen for many years, but I love them, kind of like family. They saw me skidding through adolescence, but they also saw me crowned a princess. We offer so much trust to those old friends. They've seen me in it all, just as I've seen them in it all.  That trust makes for a sacred tenderness toward them.
Did you find me?

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