I'm looking ahead at fall training, just realizing that most of our crew is new this year. How strange. Of course, Leanna, Anona, Rhett, and Emily P. have already been thoroughly immersed (baptized, initiated) into the WC culture. They know what to expect, what not to expect, and they don't squirm anymore at seminar. Dan still waits for Anona's confrontations, which always chip away at his unhealthy neutral stance. (Dan looks so normal, doesn't he? Who would have guessed we've hired a madman?) Emily Martin, I believe, would fit in anywhere with her calm spirit and willingness to do what's needed.I hope Kameron is coming back. Hailie should have had her baby by now. Has anyone heard?
I remember the first time I ever saw Leanna:I was giving an Academic lecture to a group of English majors in the Taylor Bldg, and I was talking about how hard it is for English majors to walk out of Barnes and Noble with only one book; they usually spend money they don't have on sacks and sacks of books. I saw her sitting in the middle row, a little to the right of where I was standing. She nodded her head and smiled. I had an instant flash that this girl, who was laughing at her own book fetish, would be working for us soon. I could tell similar stories about most of you. Anona has become a close friend even though we don't talk much. I feel her old and wise spirit standing beside me even when she's sitting in the classroom in front of me. Anona, Kristen, and I have choked down thick brownie cakes, bought snake hats, and watched rodeos and fireworks together. Rhett has settled down and become a strong tutor. He welcomes people with open arms into the Center, even as he suffered all summer with nervous love sickness before he finally asked B. to marry him.
I almost lost Emily Poteet as she and Byndie hid behind others in the seminar, afraid I'd call on them. I coaxed her back, and now as I watch her work with ESL and with Travis, our autistic student, I know I'm watching miracles. And who could forget the bratty tilt of Kirsten's face? She wrote this sentence in a paper once: "I sit here and I fake it; I don't know anything" [paraphrased]. Ha. She leaves on her mission soon, and I say, "Watch out, Ogden; a strong cool breeze is comin' your way."
Today, many assistants who sat in sessions at these same desks, just a little while ago, walk through my mind. I see Shalese flipping her hair back. ("How are you?" she said once. "I'm fine." She looked at me carefully and asked, "Are you telling me the truth?" She had a way of forcing me back into dealing with the moment.) I see Millie and Tev painting my hallway and sun room. I remember Shalese and Millie walking back into the Center after their missions, and how glad and proud I felt, as if they were my own daughters. (Once, as we drove to find something to eat, I realized I'd left my money in my office, and since all three of us were too tired to go back and get it, I drove down the sidewalk to park in front of the library door. "Here comes a suit-person, Millie," I said. "Act like we're supposed to be here." We stared straight ahead looking our official best, so Shalese could run up the stairs. "Now what do we do? I can't back out of here." "It's okay," Shalese said. "Just drive straight across to the other side." Whew.)
I remember laughing so hard as Chris picked me up when I fell off his horse. And I still see him, sad and scared, hanging onto Afton's hand as she sweated in a hospital bed. I see the Warnicks as they jumped to rescue anyone and everyone who was the least bit uncomfortable. I miss watching Tanner wander through his confusion over M. And Chandler? Snake catching Chan? I've never known anyone pull off parties, right in front of me, without my permission, like he did.Images from their papers still hang with me. I remember watching Kristen cringe while she read her P. blessing to me when we drove back from RMTC, as the Spirit called her heart on a mission. And Julie? She once lay on the bench across from me and waited out a dark twilight night that I had to pass through. "Can you eat some Pizza?" she said over the phone. "No. I don't want to see anyone today." Ten minutes later she drives down my lane with the Pizza anyway. Now, she cries over her cut finger? Don't let her fool you. That girl is not afraid of real pain, gut pain; she is stronger than she knows. I still see her puttering around my kitchen, and I greatly value the hand can opener she and Shalese bought me for Christmas because they got tired of trying to get my electric one to work at each party. I can hear Travis' voice, this quiet afternoon, as he patiently taught me computer stuff. His work ethic is impeccable. I trusted him as a strong leader and watched him shed his concrete mask. He became honest and open. And we all loved him because we saw the real Travis. His courage to be himself helped us work to be more real.
Many other assistants walk out from corners in my memory. So many late night talks in my office, so many movies, dinners, parties, and long loooong seminars. I am amazed as I remember the faces, the strength, the patience. You were the Writing Center. I leaned heavily on your responsible leadership. Now, for the first time in several years, I'll have to give my full attention to the WC because those of you who held it together have moved on. How blessed I've been to work with some of the great and noble Spirits who walk this earth. Some of you I know I knew in the Preexistence. I see us as sisters and brothers rather than employer and students. And today I feel nostalgic, sentimental, and incredibly grateful. Thank You. (Of course, this mood probably won't last until our meeting on Tuesday, so, don't worry; by then you can expect me to be back to my onery self again.)