what you seek is seeking you

sol

some days, i just like to read quotes from Rumi for hours.

not necessarily on end, those hours. i like to scatter the words throughout my day, luxuriate in poetry & wisdom. sometimes, Rumi speaks to my very soul.

the part that speaks without words. he makes it sing.

“what you seek is seeking you.” i love this line. it reminds me of fireflies swimming through fragrant summer nights, flickering hopefully to one another. every time i run into someone just after i’ve been thinking of her, i think of this one. i thought of it when i found dr. patti. but that’s a slice for another day. today, Rumi.

“Dance, when you’re broken open. Dance, if you’ve torn the bandage off. Dance in the middle of the fighting. Dance in your blood. Dance when you’re perfectly free.” …kind of makes those live-laugh-love wall stencils look pretty weak.

“When I am with you, we stay up all night.
When you’re not here, I can’t go to sleep.
Praise God for those two insomnias!
And the difference between them.”
…blows out of the water any love song i’ve heard, fills me with sighs & dream-frosted eyes.

“Forget safety.
Live where you fear to live.
Destroy your reputation.
Be notorious.”
13th century badassery! carry that in your back pocket & keep doubt off your back.

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breakneck

sol

my feet ache, my right ankle chewed open by friction with my sneaker. ribbons of sore lace up my legs, & i am fighting to keep my eyes open. & yet i can’t help but smile: i climbed a mountain today.

in celebration of slightly warmer weather, boyfriend & i took the train to breakneck ridge, a hiking trail about an hour from the city. we;ve climbed this mountain 3 times together. each time, it is more fun, more interesting. as we get better at climbing, we challenge ourselves & each other. each time, i come down the other side having done something i’ve never done before. if that’s not a saturday well spent, i don’t know what is.

breakneck

day 21

sol

in october, one of my students was murdered.

i have never been able to write about him, not really. i have barely been able to talk about him. people wanted to ask me how i was doing & tell me that they thought it was gang-related. i wanted to scream until i couldn’t hear anything, until the sound was a live & angry thing.

his brother didn’t come to school for months. for so long, there were these two empty spaces (the same seat in different classes, i didn’t realize until they were both gone). & then one day, after february break, he was back. quiet, smiley, himself. he came to my room after school that week to talk about books. we were laughing about something & i said, “i missed you.” & he smiled. when he left, half-an-hour later, he said, “thanks, ms.”

i want to tell him he can talk to me, that i’m here.

this week, in the middle of class, he got up & moved back to his old seat. for just a second, my breath caught, my lungs squeezed in the fist of my stopped heart. it looked so familiar, so strange.

during a team meeting, one of his teachers told us there had been an arrest made in the case of the murder. a students who had been on the roster last year but never showed up, discharged after a month. lived in the neighborhood. gang-related, “must have been.”

“that’s b—‘s brother.”

heart stopped, lungs squeezed.

“our b—?”

the vibrant, bubbly, quirky senior with the skunk rock hair-do, the social butterfly of her class, one of our talent show stars. b— is like a flame dancing through the hallways; everyone is drawn to her, her enthusiasm catches & spreads. & she carries all of this.

i won’t make her me. i have been wary of this, of projecting my own childhood onto my students. but i can’t pretend i don’t know what it’s like to be bright & shiny & always, always on in the hopes that all that dazzle casts everything else into shadow. i can’t pretend i don’t know what it’s like to carry secrets all day: how tired it makes you, how numb, how lonely.

i want to tell her she can talk to me, that i’m here. today, as she left the talent show “after party,” i called out to her & came over with arms outstretched.

“aww!” she squealed, shimmying into my embrace.

“i’m so proud of you,” i said. “don’t be a stranger.”

& my heart beat slowly, cautiously, but did not stop.

young & in love

sol

last night, my boyfriend forwarded me an email exchange from when we were first dating (about three & a half years ago). i smiled wider & wider as i scrolled through it, remembering what it felt like to write & read those words for the first time. i could tell that i was nervous & trying too hard by the abundance of adjectives, the surgical precision of their placements. at one point, he wrote that i was adorable, & i grinned to feel myself blush, thinking i must look so much like i did three years ago. no one (no boy, no romantic interest) had ever really made me blush before. he still does. it’s embarrassing & delightful.

there was this brief matchstrike of nostalgia, of longing for the time that these emails were exciting to write & exhilarating to read. but it didn’t catch. there is a mundanity to exchanges with someone you know well. i don’t play chess with my adjectives anymore, is what i’m saying. instead, i text him the simplest of things – hi. i like you. – & my heart flips over when he responds. every time. i have trouble getting off the phone with him. when i wake up in the morning & he is next to me…i don’t have words for that happiness, that completeness. there’s nothing to feel nostalgic for. everything is so much better than i ever dreamed. that’s true! it’s so cheesy & it’s so true, & that’s wonderful, for cheesy to be true!

i want to be able to send these moments to my younger self. as a teenager, when life was a string of days survived, the idea that someone could love me, or even want to hold my hand, was a dream i barely allowed myself to have. in my early 20s, i didn’t date. anyone who tried to get that close was quickly shut out. this was for my sanity, & for theirs, i told myself. i went through the motions of girlhood, writing in my livejournal about the boyfriend i wanted, but i didn’t really long for love because i knew i couldn’t have it. it wasn’t for me, & that was just that. sometimes, i would like to tell younger me what lies ahead, that someday, there will be this person who loves her so thoroughly that he will make the past feel worth it, & that’s better than trying to forget it.

i used to be a little sad, a little jealous, when i saw teenagers in their first relationships. i felt i’d missed out on this experience i could never get back: young love. i turn 30 this year (nbd, I’ve been saying I was 30 since I turned 26), but i’ve missed out on nothing. i have everything i could think to want, & then some.

morning commute

sol

running late often works out for me, because if i hit just the right window of lateness, i can catch the trains i need without waiting. leaving earlier usually means waiting more. my friend ryan always knew the arrival times when we worked together; if we didn’t come in on the same train, he’d ask, “were you on the 6:52?” & i’d just blink sleepily at him & shrug. it would be easy to know the times, but my mind always becomes slippery on the train platform, & i think of anything but.

this morning, a girl, maybe seven, followed her mother onto the 6 train. they sat on the empty bench across from where i stood. matching black coats and white scarves, a copy of the free paper, AM New York, for each of them. the girl sat down at exactly the same time as her mother, watching out of the corner of her eye to know when to bend her knees. her mother wiggled side to side, sliding all the way back in her seat; the girl did the same. as her mother leaned forward like a basketball player on the bench – elbows to knees, feet planted wide – & the girl followed suit, i marveled at her mimicry. it was a study in routine, in movement. i thought about my students who have become talented isolation dancers & wondered how many of them undertook similar tasks as children. the mother gazed at the front page of the paper, cradling it in both palms & appraising what she saw, & the daughter followed her perfectly. together, they flicked open the front pages like T-Birds unsheathing combs in “Grease.” only when they moved to the second page did the girl falter, trying to fold over the flimsy first page without tearing it. she looked up & met my eyes, seeming embarrassed by her mistake. i forced my eyes away, not wanting to make her uncomfortable that she was being gaped at by some creepy lady on the train. we all made our transfers at the same stop, & i watched the two fold the newspapers vertically around their index fingers, put their free hands in their jacket pockets, & stride side by side out the doors onto the platform.

look at this place!

sol

the superintendent is here today. she visited one of my classes this morning & has since been requesting various “artifacts” from our classrooms & departments: meeting protocol descriptions, binders of agendas & minutes, samples of student work bundled by task, rubric, & feedback, current unit plans, & more, & more. during my lunch, two of my coworkers reported to collect some artifacts from me.

“this whole thing just feels unneeded,” one said. he gestured to my classroom with a grand sweep of his arm. “look at this place! if you can’t see the learning that happens in here, i just don’t know if any of this well help.”

dear reader, i think i blushed! i love my classroom. i was excited to get it ready in september, but now that it’s broken in & plastered with personality care of my students, just walking in here can lift the worst of my moods. observe:

classroomsept13
september 2013
classroommarch14
march 2014

i could go on & on about every little detail, but i’m really loving the vocabulary posters & word walls right now. i love seeing my daydreamers & wandering eyers staring at words instead of empty space. i got the idea from a student, & i was so excited to show her that i’d turned her idle chit chat into part of our decor. the look on her face was a heartburst; it was everything i felt at her age when someone surprised me by revealing they’d heard what i was saying.

my i don’t have to run day

sol

i used to dread sundays. i’d spend the whole day obsessing over the passing of time, how each moment brought me closer to monday. weekends were fleeting, unbearably short, & sunday was for digging in your heels & pleading, ‘nonononoNOOOOO,’ futilely of course. not enough work had been done, not enough fun had, not enough sleep recouped. monday always refused to wait, no matter how desperately i begged for more time.

i’m kind of zen about sundays now. the weekends will never feel long enough – i could always do more work, sleep more hours, see more friends – but monday will come & it will be fine. sundays are like warm sunsets, mostly. i won’t pretend i welcome each one with a buddha smile, & there are plenty of nights that i look at the clock & see monday is only a few minutes away & think, ‘not yet, please!’ but for the most part, i try to remember that sunday is for strolling, for going back to bed after the animals are fed, for reading books without looking at the clock, for day-drinking & home-cooked meals. monday will be waiting, so i let it.