I have just returned to school in the midst of a snowy spring storm. My raincoat is dripping wet, and after I check back in, I see you in the hallway on the way to the sanctuary of your office. You are just as beautiful as you have always been. Curly dark hair, almond eyes, always ready with a smile or a defensive remark, whichever is necessary in that moment.
I spent the morning at a district training telling my new colleague: I will be blunt.
It somewhat reminds me of the title to an equally brutal movie, There Will Be Blood.
You ask, “How are you?”
I want to say: “My colleague experienced a family loss this morning and felt too compelled by this work to leave.”
I want to say: “Four voicemails and emails and two and a half hours later, I am just returning from getting my 101.6-fevered child from school. From fixing her the lunch she missed. This after walking, rushed, down the senior hallway only to listen to this remark: ‘I don’t know why all these teachers are abandoning their posts when there’s a huge line of seniors still waiting in the auditorium. This happens every year.'”
I want to say: “This is not OK. We are not OK. And you need to listen to us.”
Instead I say, “I am fine. How are you?” in a robotic monotone.
And you catch my glimpse. It is the same glimpse you gave me years ago when we sat at the back of those ridiculous meetings and mocked the administration (remember the half day we spent learning the acronyms? And we added at the bottom: WTF ROTFL LOL TIBS??). It is the same glimpse you gave me when we got a new superintendent, and after her first fabricated PowerPoint, you stood up, stomped out, and said, “I’m done with this district.” And you were. You had the guts to stand up for what you believed in and stomp out new grounds in a place that mattered.
But today, it is a rainy-day glimpse. It is a dark-as-snow-on-May-18th glimpse.
I want you to read Ameer’s letter. I want you to hear Isra’s plea at 3:15 about how, despite her impending graduation and officially checking out, she plans to come to class tomorrow because she misses us. I want you to know why two of my colleagues have quit. I want to talk to you.
I want you to read every inch of my eyes as I look at you, as I rush to open the squeaky 1924-door and sneak up into the safety of my classroom.
I want my new colleague to believe me when I say, “Don’t get me wrong. I love her.”
I want those words to be true.
I want you to make them true for me again.
I want you to explain to me where your voice is. Where your gumption is. Where that fearless warrior is.
I want to see you. To hear what the real reasons are for eliminating the course I have developed for four years. The course where my students feel safe. The course where they prosper.
I want you to feel these snowflakes on your cheek. To understand the gap that lies between us now, between the senior hallway, the rude remark, the unexpected spring storm, and the sun that surrounds your beauty.
I want you to catch my glimpse.
My raincoat is dripping wet. I want you to feel these tears. I want you to shiver. To care. To be the poem I wrote for you. To be drenched in the reality of this sudden spring snow.