Exhaustion. Sleep Deprivation. Revelations. Last Monday, I accidentally wore my nose ring to school. The parents descended like vultures. Not to talk about their students who are failing, but to talk about my outward defamation of the good Lord’s temple. We had an hour and a half long assembly which consisted of singing Gospel Hymnals to Jesus and watching Nyla (who spells “have to” as “haft to” and has made it to Senior English never haffing to learn any grammar) perform liturgical dances instead of learning how to read. The school board censored A Handmaid’s Tale because one tenet of the abstinence-only campaign in public institutions is that high school students won’t have sex if they don’t read about it. And, the kicker, another teacher (who generally does more sleeping at the high school than teaching) decided to tell one of my students I’m not a certified teacher. Nice.
Dina got her wisdom teeth pulled, bled all over a desk, and ruined her midterm. Shay is so pregnant, she doesn’t fit in the desks anymore- this being all the more unfortunate because the only extra chair I have in my classroom is already occupied by an obese student who also doesn’t fit in any of the desks. And Jenny got sent to in-school suspension for nine days because she had some sex during a cooking competition field trip. (Censorship works). When I went to visit her in the brimming suspension trailer, I said, “Please stop having sex at school functions so you can graduate, Jenny,” and she said, “Ok.”
But there are daily rewards. According to Kendrick’s survey, he’s “totally enjoying Macbeth because that man is one sneaky warrior,” Robert asked me how to spell “androgynous” for an essay on society’s off-base definition of masculinity, AND I somehow successfully pulled off a field trip to Tulane. We did miss the bus on the way home, and I had to drive kids to their sundry residences which I could get sued for, but I’ve come to the realization that there are no rules really. None. You honestly don’t even have to be certified to teach at my school (ask the four teachers who aren’t. Aren’t what? Certified. Seriously.)
I also realized I love my students much more than I ever loved the students I was around during college. Leah said, “College students are so quiet and alone,” when we walked through the Tulane student center. It’s true. There seems to be a lot more vibrancy in the smallness of Laplace than on the lawns of a $40,000 a year university. I wish more of my students would be college bound or at least outside-of-Louisiana bound so they could spread their simple kindness and wisdom.
My small town sweethearts were additionally awkwardly surprised by the lack of clothing on female collegiate bodies. I was too. Leggings alone? This is a whole new ball game. Booties everywhere, uncovered, walking, moving, gelatinously shaking from quad to classroom. Whitney said, “You have to have lost respect for yourself to wear that in public,” and we all nodded, unable to move our eyes from the caboose of a young lady wearing TIGHTS with nothing over them. Literally. What has this generation come to? I feel old and prude and confused.
And in my personal life, or lack thereof, we hit a drunk pedestrian in my car, her head came through the windshield, and then she upended and hit the ground head first. I know this because I watched the video of it from the nearby bar three times. No questions asked by the police, no ticket issued, no rules, see? She did live and that’s all that really matters. I have been reminding myself of that every day. We live. That matters.
Quincy busted through the full length window in our kitchen to get out and enjoy some sun, and now the kitchen makes my feet cold. From our balcony, you can hear the new Pomeranian puppy our neighbors just bought. That’s their second Pomeranian. Why anyone would make that same mistake twice is a mystery to me. The new one looks like an electrocuted rat and sounds like a miserable child. The police broke into our neighbor’s house, guns drawn, and never told us why, and I woke up to gunshots three nights in a row this week. A lightning storm rattled my window like a banging fist, and in the quick midnight light of this tempest, I realized, amongst the scattered things that I do love here, I am getting ready to leave Louisiana.