BIRTHDAY GIFT

NOTE: This was actually written on March 5th, 2010, but I just now got around to posting it. Who cares, right? I like accuracy. Is that so wrong? A little background: I am an English teacher. For the past decade or so, I have been teaching Advanced Placement courses in high school English. Last year, my principal told me that I would be teaching a college prep course called AVID. It’s a fine course, and it serves a great need, but my heart is not in it. Before I was assigned the position, my principal told me that if I was still not committed by the end of the year, I could go back to teaching English. In the meantime, he has filled positions in the department, and I saw that he was making sure that there would not be a place for me. The writing has been on the wall for a long time, but it is a very hard story to read.

Also, I have a niece who I will call Ali in this blog.

Today I had a rough day at school. I met with my principal, a man without an advanced degree who insists on a title, and he told me, basically, that my department was better off without me in it. He’s full of shit; my colleagues ask for my help and students come to me every day for advice and editing. Still, it hurt my feelings, and for a moment I felt ashamed, as if I’d done something wrong and was being punished. After I left the office, I cried in the halls, rushing so as not to be late to my next class. The day finally ended and I got home, where I feel safe and uninhibited. I desperately needed a nap. I was drained. I felt like my face was melting. I lay down on the couch, and within minutes I felt myself losing consciousness. Right before I was O-U-T out, I had the sensation that Ali was twining her little stick arms around my hips, climbing up me like a monkey, pulling me close to her, a soft, warm baby, burrowing into me. I think, in my sleep, I smiled. I woke up late for our weekly Friday night dinner, and when I got to my sister and brother-in-law’s house, just like in my dream, Ali ran up and threw her arms around me, her sunflower face shining gold, squeezing out a pure ray of love. It was one of those moments in which the perfection of it all takes your breath away. I picked her up and told her about my reverie.
“Write it down, ” she said, “Then you will always remember what it feels like when I love you.”
I hope I never forget.
I sure am a lucky lady.

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