Monday, June 27, 2011

A trip into the past

I'm loving this blogging thing.
But sometimes, I get the feeling I'm writing for like two people - myself and the unfortunate person who accidentally stumbles across this site during some random Internet search.

I find it's important to document moments in my life so I have something to look back on when the memories fade.

So here goes:

I went back to my Brooklyn high school last Monday, the first time in more than 10 years. I'd been corresponding with my 10th grade English teacher Mr. Milkman and decided it would be a treat to see him again.
So during my recent vacation to New York, I stopped in to say hello.
In the time I'd been gone, a fancy science wing had been added and the library relocated.

But most everything else was the same.
The building smelled the same.
The teachers looked the same.

The memories came rushing back:

- writing for my high school newspaper, Argus.

- teachers who fed my hunger for learning, like physics teacher Mr. Langan. I disliked science but with him, physics made sense ... and I actually enjoyed it.

- the gym class that gave me my first taste and eventual love of weight-lifting (I once challenged a boy to a sit-ups competition. I won with 832 in one sitting. Couldn't laugh for days but the victory was sweet.)

I got goosebumps as I walked the halls.

Then there was Mr. Milkman - my favorite teacher - who welcomed me last week with a bear hug.
Books sprang to life in his class. I think it's imperative that we let the people who have touched our lives know they've done so. It was nice to tell him.
Ok, so it was more than 10 years later. But hey, better late than never, right?

As we chatted, I heard someone say my name. I turned around and there was another English teacher Ms. Pumelia.
Another hug.
I never had her in class but I hung out often in her office with a friend of mine, Cathy. (One of the marks of a great teacher is when they take interest in all kids in the building - their students or not.)
"One second," she said and scurried out of the room.
She returned with a framed picture of me, Cathy and her - taken on the last day of senior year.

It had been displayed in her office all these years.

I spoke with a few other teachers and then left them to finish grading English Regents exams.

<---- But not before a picture with Mr. Milkman and Ms. Pumelia.

More hugs and then it was time to go.

So, here's a question for you: ever think about the folks in your life who have made it extraordinary? Or maybe someone who said something that changed the way you see everything? Have you told them?

I know it sounds a little hokey but try it.

It's sure to make their day. Might make yours, too.


  1. Hey, Lola!
    1) You are writing for more than two people. I didn't stumble upon you, but came here on purpose. And I know that others besides myself are reading. It's funny, because I have the same insecurity about people reading my blog! I can really relate.

    2) High school memories: Great memories, well put. I went back to my high school a few years after I'd graduated and had similar sensations and experiences. But, with all of my family having left Atlanta (where I went to school), I've just not found a reason to go back in many years. I mean, in like, ummm, nine years, considering that I graduated about, uhhh, 15 years ago. Yeah, that's right. 15 years ago. :-)

    3) your final point: It's not hokey at all. I agree that it's important. In all the time that I didn't go back to my high school, my favorite and most influential teacher, Coach Harcourt, left. The man must be a hermit now because, in spite of my many online searches, I've not been able to find him. My elderly *mother* can be found on the Internet! How can a science teacher be impossible to find? But if I could find him, I'd tell him how important he was to me.

  2. Oh, and your h.s. newspaper was really named "Argus"? Unbelievable! It sounds like the newspaper for Hogwarts!

  3. (I read! I read!)

    In preparing for Anna Reaghan's birth I've been reflecting back upon Asa's. I have had every intention of sitting down and writing a note to our midwife in Florida who delivered him to tell her what an amazingly empowering job she did--and your post has spurred me on to sit down tonight and actually write it. I think she needs to know that the way she cheered for me and encouraged me through a looong induction and made me feel like a ROCK STAR after it was over has carried over in my mental and emotional state in preparing for Anna Reaghan to arrive here across the country from Florida. She needs to know she gave me every reason to face my second labor feeling like I'm already a conqueror. What a gift to give women!

  4. Ok, so I'm writing for three people - me and you two ladies. Just kidding :)

    @Kathy: Thank you and thank you! Hope you do find Coach Harcourt. How strange that he doesn't have an online presence.
    And yes, Argus sure is a fun name. It's a mythological creature who had 100 eyes so he could see everything. In HS, we the newspaper staffers, were confident (or maybe cocky) enough to think we stayed on top of stuff going on at the school. I would like to think we did a good job ;)

    @Becca - what an AMAZING gift your midwife gave you. Wow! Glad you're sending her a note. It'll be a gift to her. It makes me think of the notes I get from newspaper readers from time to time about my articles. They remind me that what I do as a writer truly is important. It encourages me to keep on.

  5. OK at the risk of sounding hokey, the answer to your final questions is yes I do think about the people in my life who have made it extraordinary. You, my dear big sister, are one of them.

  6. You better make me the fourth person. I drop in here from time to time to keep up with my old school board comrad...

    P.S. I think it's wonderful that you took the time to tell the teachers in your life how much they impacted you. One of my regrets is that I never got a chance to tell that very thing to Dr. Robert Drake. He had a stroke and died about 10 years ago. GREAT English professor and pretty darn good short story writer.

  7. Love this. And my family and I just shook our heads over the 832 sit ups. Not surprised at all!