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Saturday, August 16, 2014

Pants on fire

Dear Josie,

Your mother's a liar.

I remember the night I called home.  It was nearly my third year of college, and I was changing my major to education.  I never wanted to be a teacher.  Truth be told, I was wary of the job prospects for someone with solely a Biology degree.  I'll give it a year, I thought. 

I told my mother and she was silent at first.  "Doesn't teaching require patience?" 

The night before my very first day I broke out in hives.  There I sat on my twin bed, highlighting ice breakers and memorizing their names, the responsibility weighing heavily on my twenty three year old shaking fingers.  I thought of them then, visualized their eighth grade graduations and mall excursions.  Saw the various routes shifting inward, ninety three lives culminating and connecting, ever so briefly under the florescent lights of my very first classroom.  I wondered if I'd disappoint them, promptly vomiting the Benadryl into my purple polka dotted trashcan. 

The fear might have stopped me then, but it didn't. 

The patience comes with the first twenty minutes, only growing thereafter every day for a million years.  It comes in waves as they ask you to stop believing in them, over and over, cursing you under adolescent breath and asking you to stop.  To run.  Daring you to change your mind.

And I could have changed my mind.  Every day for seven years, but I haven't. 

I haven't run on the many days I've wanted to.  The hard days.  The bleak days.  The days they scoff and yell, running away as they file in,  throwing it all back in my face and begging me to give up on them.  There are many days where the truth comes easy.   You can't do this days.  I can't do this days.  Days where what's the point?  Many afternoons I've gazed out windows and seen myself running, fading into the solitude of a thousand research labs and never looking back.

Instead I cringe as I raise my chin.  The words like sandpaper as they leave my lips and I tell them.  Yes.  Yes, you can. 

And I lie to them.  All of them, over and over.  I lie when it's blatantly obvious and the next day I lie again.  I lie to them until they believe it, until it isn't a lie any longer.  I lie to them as they show me the truth, that it was never a lie to begin with.

I thought of them in my hospital bed that morning.  I have thought of them many days hereafter, seen them prove me wrong time and again, the dreams surpassing my expectations single file. 

I'd like to say that I've taught them.  The fruits of this labor, reaching and growing and rising because of me.  I'd like to say that I've shown them how, that I've saved them.  But the truth is, they have saved me. 
Every day they're saving me. 



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