Thursday, April 03, 2008

Walking into Venial Sins Having to Do with Hair

Sometimes I'm alert to every nuance, checking out every concrete bump, every change in the thawing pads of grass along the sidewalk, every person coming toward me and walking away from me in the distance, every breeze rustling at my collar. Today, though, I walked in to work head ducked down in a meditative trance, my mind raveling around what I hoped to do in class and worrying about Ted, who's recuperating from that damned virus that's grabbed so many others. I didn't even notice how far I'd gone, hardly looking up until I had marched straight through Mott and the Cultural Center and was crossing the Kearsley Street bridge onto campus. I was there and it didn't really matter how I got there, my body invigorated by its half hour of cold spring sun and fresh air.

Yet even after an equally soothing return walk -- this time down Avon to Crapo to Court, entering the neighborhood at Woodlawn Park Drive at mason David Smallidge's sturdy brick signpost -- I feel old and uneasy in the world tonight. My snazzy plans for helping my students move forward with "cause and effect arguments" were foiled by a mid-class tornado sense in dragging them back in. I just let them go. I wonder if my students even care about any of it. I wonder if they're learning anything. I think they just want to get out of there; the tornado drill was a blessing, a stroke of luck, sweet freedom.

Before that, I embarrassed myself, getting caught telling them a story I'd apparently already told them. It was about how I got kicked out of my parents' house at 18 for listening to the soundtrack to Hair. That was 40 years ago -- this summer, the exuberant musical of my youth will be performed in Central Park to celebrate the anniversary. My students, bored groans unsuccessfully suppressed, reminded me they'd already heard about it. I committed a venial sin, repeating myself, not to mention the possibly mortal sin of evoking my own obviously long gone youth in the present audacity of theirs. How dare I? I'm an old fart. Send me off to the floes, right now. Oh, wait, the floes are almost gone, too. I'm sunk.


Krista said...

I think that must be one of the most frustrating things about being a creative writing teacher: the majority of the students probably have little to no real interest in the subject. It's just another three credits on their transcript.

Does it make you feel any better that I thoroughly enjoyed your class and missed it dearly after the semester ended?

Macy Swain said...

Thank you, Krista. Your comments mean a lot. I feel a bit more optimistic this morning.