Then and Now

 This week, I saw someone I haven’t seen since I was a junior in high school.  One of my favorite hs teachers, Sue, came to see me Monday afternoon.  I was happy to see on Facebook last week that she was coming to Washington, and even more delighted when she posted on my wall that she was coming to Cashmere to visit her parents.  She asked if I was going to be around.  I said yes.  I sent her my cell number via Facebook message.  Sunday night, I got a text from a number I didn’t recognize, but I knew instinctively, it was her.  But still…  I had to ask to make sure (you can never be too careful).

She said her dad had errands to run in Wenatchee the next day (Monday), and if I wanted, he would drop her off at my house and pick her up on his way back home.  I got excited, and said yes, yes, yes.

I could hardly believe I was going to see Sue again.  I don’t remember the last time I saw her, but I know I was a few months away from turning 18.  She appeared so suddenly at the beginning of my sophomore year.  Her classroom was the best I’ve ever been in.  She had white Christmas lights strung around the ceiling, and she kept it dimly lit, especially for the first part of class – when we were writing in our journals.  It was very peaceful – calm and serene.

She had just gotten married the summer before, and has two step-kids.  It was very easy to see that her step-daughter, Brittany, who is the same age as my sister, adored her, and not hard to see why.  Sue has a very open and loving heart.  I remember once that I had missed a class for some reason, and she saw me in the halls before school started and asked me if I wanted to come catch up.  I did, so I followed her into her classroom.  She sat down at the student desks with me (they were in groups of four) and after I got my class journal out of my bag, she asked for my hand.  Confused, I gave her my good hand – my left.

She turned it palm up, and held it gently in both of hers, brushing her palm against mine.  “You’re so young, Dani,” she murmured.

I was sixteen.  I looked down at my hand in hers too, and noticed that you could barely see any lines on it (not like you can now).  It was smooth and pale.  I have always known I look younger than I actually am (even today, people don’t guess I am 30).  Maybe that is a good thing, though.  Nobody really wants to look their age, especially if they are over a certain hump.

She released my hand, and told me to write down as many words I can think of to describe my hand and to craft a poem from those words.  Easy, peasy, right?

My hand – It’s a lightly drawn map to the end of time, holding its secrets within.  Nobody knows the stories it has.  It is stubborn – doing everything, leaving nothing for the other to do.  It is free, and it flies sometimes, across the keyboard, across paper, gripping a pen, writing, always writing.  My hand understands me, understands what it must do.  It understands what my mind does – that I am okay, even after the strange looks from my peers, even after the another silent day.  I hold my heart in my hand, even though no one sees it but me.  

That is not the actual poem I wrote back then, but rather a new one.  I was sixteen.  I didn’t keep everything I wrote, especially if I didn’t like it very much.  In many ways, I am a perfectionist…  if I put something down on paper, it has to be gold.  If not, I erase it or tear the page out.  I’ve ruined whole notebooks/journals doing this.

It is no wonder I don’t have a novel written by now.  I am working on it.  Baby steps.  Kaizen.    It’s a Japanese word that means improvement.  Nothing improves overnight – almost everything, every goal we have, takes time.  It’s kaizen time.


It was so nice to see Sue on Monday.  She loved meeting Buffy and the other dog, Kobe, and we talked about my friend Tammy, and I told her that I am going to be a bridesmaid in her wedding this summer.  I showed her the collage Tammy had made to ask me to be in her wedding and then I showed her the scrapbook album that Tammy sent me during the summer of 2010, while I recovered from the last major surgery I ever hope to have (Lord have mercy).  Sue loved it all.  She asked me if  Tammy was on facebook, and I said yes.  Then she said she’s going to invite herself to the wedding!  LOL!  I love it.  Tammy thinks Sue is awesome too, so I hardly think that will be a problem.

One thought on “Then and Now

  1. Your blog about my visit brought tears to my eyes, Dani. I have teachers from the past with whom I am still in touch – even my high school Brit Lit teacher whose class changed the trajectory of my life from Premed to English major! – and now I know why they always told me it meant so much that I’d kept in touch. It meant so much to ME that you have kept in touch, and to see the amazing 30 year-old young woman you have become (even though I thought you were actually about 23 – but that’s because acknowledging your age means acknowledging my own…eek) reminded me of the reason I became a teacher in the first place. So many teachers touched my life, and I am humbled and grateful to have been a part of yours – and to continue to be part of it long into the future! Can’t wait to see you again in July in San Diego!

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