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Beautiful Bungalows by the Bay - a Dear X collab

04.11.2001

feeling kinda how a girl feels

let's not even talk about which month this was for. :) for Dear X: turning over a new leaf.

Beautiful Bungalows by the Bay

dear mr. sambucetti:

i've been thinking about you, and the rest of my teachers, lately. it's fall, of course. kids are coming back to school at all the campuses around here. we have a ridiculously high number of schools and campuses; last time i counted, it's up around 20. that's a lot of colleges in one place.

and of course, there are all the high school students. i can only be grateful every time i see one of them in their Catholic school getup that we never had to do that. as if high school wasn't tough enough without all that.

i used to feel as if i should be getting back to school with the rest of them; 22 years of habit are hard to change. now, it's more about switching over the closet, getting out the sweaters, cleaning up and putting away the fans, replacing the filter on the furnace, just sort of generally resetting.

does that mean that i'm a grownup? *soft laugh* you taught us a lot of things in history and economics, but this whole being an adult thing - i don't remember you ever covering that.

how hard is it to watch your students move on? or is it satisfying? do you have hopes for us? do you think, 'well, that one will go somewhere. this one, though....'? or do you just turn to the next crop? actually, are you even still teaching?

you were always one of my favorite teachers. you know, of course, that i had one of those silly schoolgirl crushes on you. you must have known; it was kind of hard to miss.

the interesting thing is that it wasn't a crush in the 'i wish i could date you' sort of sense. i liked coming in before school to have a cup of coffee and talk, about class, about anything. i thought you were funny and smart, and i liked that you talked to me as if i were an equal. looking back now, i'm overwhelmed by how much you shared with me. you talked about your wife and kids, your business, your hopes, the fact that you wanted something more out of your job.

do you think we get more frustrated as we get older? looking around, looking back (which always seems to happen this time of year), i don't really feel as if i've started anything new or changed things that need to change. the mental reshuffling that happens around autumn seems to be not so much turning over a new leaf, or creating the opportunity to do so, so much as it's about raking out the old leaves. there's some silly analogy about compost and mulch in there; i can't even go there. is that one of the signs that you're feeling your age? that you don't want to compare yourself to mulch because it hits too close to home?

and we become more ... not complacent, exactly, but it does get harder to change. complacent, to me, implies a level of contentment. and i'm not content, just stuck.

what happened to all those ideas i had, back when i was your student? how did they fall by the wayside? i can't even remember where it was i wanted to get. here's the difficulty of getting to any point in your life: it's damn near impossible when the road keeps changing.

i remember you talking about not being able to do certain things because the wife or the kids or the inlaws yada yada. i don't think you were unhappy about any of that; you just recognized that making some choices will close off others. i guess that's what i meant by the road changing. and we don't always get to control how that happened. some things are thrown our way.

i get angry with myself because i see that student sitting at your desk in the morning with her to-go cup of coffee from home, talking big ideas and assuming that all things were possible. and now, even when i want to turn over a new leaf, it rarely happens. i end up feeling like a failure and disappointed when i don't always achieve the level of change that i think i should.

part of me wants to be that student with way too much caffeine again, chatting with you while you ugrade papers before running off to class (both of us). i want that because, insecure teenager though i might have been, i did pretty much everything - running a radio station, assistant director for a few plays, volunteer and teacher at a local museum, top student - it just never occurred to me that i was up against too much of a wall to do any of that.

i think there's also some comfort to be found in the familiar bounds of academia. you get an assignment, you get graded, you know how you did. funny, it's just never so clear if you've done well once you leave that setting. no one grades you on how well you budget, or how efficiently you shop for groceries, or how clean you keep your house. and i always knew where i stood in school.

then again, it would be lovely to meet up with you on my own turf as well, just hang out at a caf¸ somewhere over lattˇs and catch up, see where each of us has gone in the last 15 years.

hoping this finds you well -

sincerely,

beth

yesterday :: tomorrow

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