PS Chris Mower will be performing "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown" at the South Jordan Community Theater. Tickets are only $5, and the first performance is tonight (February 25). For more info, go here, and to buy tickets go here. I'm an idiot who didn't check her schedule prior to buying tickets, so I have two tickets for Friday, March 5th that I can't use. If you want them, they're yours. No charge.
Today, I do not feel good. My stomach feels swollen and pushes against my insides. My knees ache and I am overheated. My throat feels full of cotton balls. I’m sitting here, looking out at the Writing Center and seeing everyone.
A group of five has been working together for at least an hour. Among their books lie empty water and soda bottles. Behind them, a girl absently chews on her fingernails while her partner highlights the pages of a chemistry book. There are orange smears from the highlighter on the side of her hand. At a table by herself, another student has three textbooks opened. At the top of her table are three pens lined parallel to each other. The pens are all different colors: red, black, and blue. She marks occasionally and with purpose. A man with a blue shirt and a red tie leans against a pillar towards the back. His knot is fat and wrinkled. One of the men at the table with the empty bottles laughs loudly, his face turning red.
Back by the man with the fat tie, Sister Morgan’s office door is open, and the lights inside are on. Her chair sits in the window of the doorway, spun away from her computer. Portraits of her children line the window—some smiling, some serious. There is snow filtering outside her window, falling in flakes like the shavings of clouds.
From the front desk, Tyler walks through the grid of tables towards the open door. A red lanyard with his name tag swings across his chest. He carries On Writing Well in his hand, his thumb marking his place. I watch his eyes sweep Sister Morgan’s office. Realizing it’s empty, his forehead creases and he turns, walking back to the front desk.
He’s new, and I wonder if he’s handling the Writing Center alright. He made it through the first party, so I assume he’s doing alright. Still though, we can be overwhelming with our talks of abstract things like honesty, masks, and blood essays. I hope he feels like he belongs here; I hope this for everyone who works here.
Looking back at the tables, the man who once surveyed from the back has retired to an office somewhere. The group is gone too, taking with them their graveyard of plastics. The girl who had three books open, now only has one. Her pens are put away, but now she marks the words with her finger.
A girl with blonde hair leans against the desk, her elbows resting on the counter. Her legs are locked and stiff as she talks to Tyler.
“…and what class is this for?” Tyler says. She talks low and quiet, and I can’t hear her from where I’m sitting.
“…and the teacher? Do you know his first name?”
I walk to the bookshelf by the desk to get a mint, but mostly to stretch out my legs—to work out the aches and tightness. I pause there, holding a pencil between my fingers and tracing long, shaky curves through the Zen garden. In my head, I run through some of the “lessons” Sister Morgan gave me when we first got the garden at the Writing Center.
Tyler, now free of the girl, walks again back towards Sister Morgan’s open door. His training binder substitutes the book he carried earlier. He walks feet from the open door and stretches his neck, barely able to see past the door jamb. Meeting only the swivel chair, he walks back to the front desk, looking over my shoulder at the sand.
“It’s all about balance,” I say. “No one part should draw attention to itself.”
He moves to sit at the desk, and I still draw the lines that follow the curves of other lines that follow the curves of rocks.
Watching the groups at the tables and seeing Tyler moving from the front desk to Sister Morgan’s office, back to front desk, and finally stopping again at the desk makes me think about when I first came to school—when I first started working here.
It’s s how many times a day I hear the sentence, “I’m looking for the Writing Center,” and it never means what it did when I said the same words almost a year ago. When I got hired, I wasn’t looking for help with commas or for a place to work on thesis statements. I was looking for a place to belong to—a place where I could be accepted for Skyler and not anyone I was trying to be. I was moving from reality to numbness, back into reality, and then to numbness again, hoping to find someone along the way to keep me in a permanent state of living.
While pulling long lines through the Zen garden, I realize something. If I look close enough at the lines I’m drawing, I can see the sand spill around the tip of the pencil and then form long threads of rows and rows. I never change the sand into something else; I never change the rocks or the container either. I’m always working with what I started with—chaos to order.
Setting the pencil down beside the Zen garden, I laugh to myself.
“Ha,” I say. “Metaphors.”
I wanted to drop a line and say, "Hey Writing Center." I still live in Philadelphia (for the next five months until Travis finishes his master's and then who-the-heck-knows where we'll be). I teach high school English and laugh sometimes, pull out my hair other times, cried once, and sweat every day. Hard work (but "soooooo rewarding," I hear).
I still think of all of you often (at least the "all of you" that I know). Sister Morgan, I don't know if you even have the same phone number but when I got my new phone I transferred your number and assigned your picture to it, knowing that we'll not talk because we both hate phones. There are numbers and pictures I'll never delete; one of my favorites is one of your river and canoe (despite my almost-drowning experience. Stop laughing. It was really cold. We all know it was my excuse to wear your killer hot 50's bathrobe, though).
How are you? Julie? Leanna? Anona? Dan? Meghan? Chan? Nathan? Kiersten? Kaitlin? Sister Morgan? Sending some Philly-colorful love your way. Yes, I still love Photoshop. And yes, I'm still terrified of being a mother. Some things don't change. :)
I realized two things recently. First, I didn’t really get a chance to say goodbye to any of you, except for Matt who happened to catch me on campus and possibly Aly who texted me. Second, I really, really, really miss you all, and I worry that I did not take advantage of my friendships with each of you while I was in close proximities (that one is for you Daniel).
So to make myself feel a little better, I thought I would make a list of all the things I miss about you guys. Here it is:
Aly- I miss our yoga, laughing, and how you always made me feel loved and appreciated.
Britt- I miss our accidental hugs, your amazing fashion sense, and your deep questions that I would never think of asking.
Shannon- I miss how you could see into aspects of my life and could help me see the things I could not see myself.
Matt- I miss wondering if you were only my friend when it didn’t interfere with whatever diabolical plan you were plotting. Also I miss your keen sense of critique.
Kirsten- Argyle, argyle, argyle! Oh how I love and miss your argyle. And I miss your positive attitude and kindness.
Daniel- I miss having a human grammar book to reference. Pages are harder to turn than your synapses.
Rebeccas (plural)- I miss having three amazing Rebeccas to keep straight and laugh with.
Andylin- I miss being terrified that you were going to grammatically tear my heart from my chest and make me watch while it stopped beating. Even now… Oh, and I may or may not have misspelled your name on purpose.
Jalyssa- What isn’t to miss about the most perfect couple ever? You were always so kind to me. Always.
Karli- You live like ten minutes away from me. What the hecks is going on?
Loraine- I miss how you would sometimes steal my seat in seminar but that you were too sweet and nice for me to say anything.
Jodi- Remember how we rocked it in NYC? Yeah I miss times like that.
Kaitlin- I miss going to Abs that Rock and wanting to die while fake rowing to Mylie Cyrus. Oh and I miss how you were always interested in my not-so-interesting life.
Ivor- So poetic. I miss not understanding anything you say or write. My brain doesn’t do poetry.
Eric- I miss your honesty. I hear you are funny, but I fear I didn’t know you well enough to make an educated decision about that. I have hope I will.
Chan- I miss your zeal for life and especially wildlife. I don’t think I have ever cared about anything as much as you care about that.
Kylie- I miss your sweet temperament and the velocity of your speech.
Traci- I miss looking at you from the computers while you were on desk and thinking. She looks bored. Maybe I should show her how to make little boxes by clicking and dragging the mouse.
Amy- I miss thinking about that picture you showed us on your PowerPoint that had you holding the doll that looked exactly like you. Wait I still do that. Oh, and I miss how you would always ask how I was doing.
Jen- I miss your free spirit and wonderful supply of Wunderbars.
Sarahjo- I miss how we just click. It seemed like we always had the same opinions.
New people and people I may have missed- Sorry I didn’t get to meet and/or remember to put you on the list. But I am sure we could have laughed together. And I’ll miss that.
And of course, Sharon Morgan. That’s right, no more Sis. Morgan. We’re peers now. When you hired me, I really needed a job. I liked writing, but I never considered myself a “writer.” The things you taught me about writing will be with me forever. Detail. Honesty. An irrational fear of exclamation points. I can now say with pride that I am a writer. Thank you.
I love and miss you all! I hope to come and visit some time soon.
Hugs, hugs (Except Britt, I know how it freaks you out.)
It was 3:30 am and not a creature was stirring all through our house, then 3:31 struck and it began. The most annoying, aggravating noise you could ever conceive pierced my ears, through a thin wall. It was my beloved nephew, who I truly love, just not for the next two hours. The worst part of it was the guilty feeling I had afterwards of being teeth grindingly angry with him for crying. Ever since I moved in with my sister, I felt a feeling of pride… like I was the noble older brother I never was as a kid, coming in on my silver Subaru and making her life a little easier. What I soon found out was, I became what some friends in the (so called) know dubbed an “insta-daddy.” Now let me just clear the air, I don’t want to, nor claim to be Hudsen’s father, but I do contribute a lot in his life. From picking up soggy teddy grahams to the most horrifying diaper ever expelled from a baby, I have been there for him and for my sister Sarah. I don’t mind helping out (besides the diaper to be frank) and I know that it takes some stress off of a single mom trying to go to school, cook, and still be 21, but lately I start sulking with the “could you...”s and the “would you please...”s. I will readily admit that I am not ready to be a dad, with my own life turned upside down. In between wondering where my next pay check will come from and if I will ever see a degree (of any sort) with my name on it before I turn 40, I am hurtling rubber duckies out of my shower (however cute they may be.) That was two days ago, when all I could think of was shoving Hudsen into a cannon with one of those over-sized Q-tips and blasting him off to China or the moon, whichever made the house quieter. He was teething and had all four molars coming in at once. The pain was just too great for him to sleep through and as soon as he was given some Orajel he calmed down, smiled at me, and went to sleep in my arms. As his warm head rested against my shoulders, I began to think about how upset I get when I am up with things too painful for me to bear. I was there with him crying out in his crib for help and I wasn’t impatient with him anymore. That night wasn’t a cloud bursting, revelatory experience, but I understood a little more of what it is to be Dad, what it is to be a Son, and a little more of the Gospel.