April 23, 2006

Teacher's Pet

You know how you hear of people who tell you they had a teacher who made a huge impact on them and really changed their lives?

I'm one of those people. I had a high school English teacher that basically took a lump of clay and made the first tentative moldings in it. Arlene Miller gave a scrawny opinionated little goofball a respect for the power of the written word, the importance of education, and an introduction to the person I could become. There were many years when her belief in me carried me over times when I had no belief in myself.

She's retired now, at a ridiculously young age (truly: she was in her mid-20's when she taught me) and we're friends. She's married to an amazing man, and she and John came for dinner last night. My sister Roz, another former student, did the cooking so I couldn't hurt anyone.

I cleaned the whole house, and made sure the boys were behaving. Jackson took me by the shoulders, and with a wisdom only an 11-year-old could have, informed me that Arlene was not going to grade me. Just visit.

She walked in the door and commented on how clean it was. I shot Jackson a look.

Fabulous company, fabulous dinner, fabulous wine. The opportunity to relate as equals wound around my barely submerged gratitude for how much Arlene has given me. And my great luck that the classroom walls weren't boundaries to our friendship.

Sometimes we don't realize where our riches truly lie.


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