Wednesday, June 23, 2010
"When's it gonna get good?"
I teach high school English and History in a psychiatric hospital. Everyday i get a new perspective on life through my students' eyes. I try to give them mine. Somewhere in the middle we find the truth. December 17, 2007 - Monday "When's it gonna get good?" they whine in rows of collard green desks. "You said there was a trial, a murder, and a rape. Nothing is happening," they demand, "Scout's just a tomboy running around being a kid." "Something is happening," I protest from the other side, perched among them. "You are growing attached." I can see it as they let their recollections pile up to the ceiling tiles: "This one time," "in my neighborhood," and "I remember...." Enthralled I observe their film reels (sorry, digital cameras) rewind and play frame by frame across their minds. Now they live in a place where they cannot frolic after dark, and when the street lights come on all bets are off. "What?" their tiny brows furrow. "You don't know it yet," I slip, "but you love her. You cannot help but love her." My babbling of foreshadowing and irony and vernacular dialect falls on deaf ears, but they cannot deny that she has them in her clutches. They cannot help but love her. I savor this time of their journey: the "before" before the "after", the naivete before the disillusionment, the excitement before the fall. Soon they'll be on the edge of the page, not being able to recall when exactly they were suckered in. Their hearts will break, tragedies will occur, lessons will be learned--maybe only that afterwards they somehow feel as if they've misplaced an old friend. Sticky fingers twirl pieces of hair casually and they turn the page in disbelief. I sigh in anticipation of the inevitable. I cannot help but love them; I cannot help but love them.