09 June 2011

The Things I've Carried.

It's been forever, Bleaders.
I thought I would break the ice with this interesting story.
The other day I was walking my dog at this little park by my house and ran into my fifth grade teacher. She has always remained, in my mind, one of the most influential teachers I ever had. Fifth grade, in my brain, is the easiest year for me to recall. I can remember details about that year (and the years following). The years prior to fifth grade all blur together, but for some reason fifth grade is where my vivid (and I mean VIVID) memory begins.

In fifth grade, I had two best friends. One friend was named S and the other was named H. H was my true best friend, S sort of joined our group that year. H and S liked to stay inside the classroom during recess and lunch, helping our teacher grade papers and clean her classroom. I always wanted to play outside with other people--like kickball and foursquare, but I had this extreme jealous streak running through me (that I still have) and didn't want them--H and S--becoming better friends while they stayed inside the classroom. So I sold my soul and hung out inside the classroom instead of having fun.

S was kind of teacher's pet. I remember getting jealous one day because she invited H over and not me. Naturally, I felt vulnerable. I decided I needed to take action against S to guarantee that H would be my best friend forever. So I wrote a really nasty note:
You should have seen S's face when Miss G asked you to get her the calculator instead of her. She's obviously really jealous. What a loser.
This note never made it to H. First, the note fell out of my desk. I saw this kid Justin run out of the classroom for  recess with a folded up piece of paper and it never even crossed my mind. Of course, I stayed in the classroom during recess. What I didn't know was that Justin was running around the playground showing the note to everyone on the playground. He came in the room at one point during recess and read part of it out loud to us. S heard the beginning part and began to cry. Miss G grabbed the note out of his hand. This all happened in slow motion. The bell rang. Miss G read the note. She looked up at me, then H, then S, then back to me. I took my seat, knowing I was in trouble.

We had an art project that day. We were supposed to draw a desert scene with a cactus. I drew a stormy desert. Miss G called H and I outside the classroom. "THERE IS NO NOTE WRITING IN MY CLASS!" Miss G then dismissed H back into the classroom. She continued to yell at me, saying she was going to make a copy of the note and send it my parents. I apologized profusely. We moved on. I didn't get in any more trouble.

This has always stuck with me--this moment where I royally messed up, when I was a bitch and got in trouble for it. I never passed a note in class (at least not until college) since then. I always looked back at her class fondly, except for that scar of a dumb idea. The cactus had a dark cloud over it. It hung on the wall in her classroom, right by my desk, for what felt like forever, a reminder of the day I was a bad girl. I always have wondered if Miss G thought I was a failure of a student. Surely students have done worse things in her class since. But I thought for sure she would have remembered me and my incident.

When I ran into her the other day, after playing catch up and gossiping about a few older teachers who still teach at my elementary school, I apologized for writing that note. I told her I haven't written a note in class since.

"You wrote a note in my class?" she laughed. "I don't remember that."

All these years of carrying it with me, feeling bad and guilty about being a bad student 12 years ago in my 5th grade class...and Miss G never remembered my crime. It's so interesting the things we carry with us, the things we still feel guilty about. I doubt that even H or S remember the incident now. Something that seemed so big, such a big part of my childhood, is so small to everyone else.

My memory is so interesting.


  1. I can totally relate to this... and it reminded me of a line from a novel I just read called "The Cure for Grief" (good but depressing, as you might expect!): "How strange, the way moments can feel huge while they're happening...and then turn small, only to become weighty again. How can you ever know which moments matter, if they shift in potency over time?"

  2. If there was a 'like' button on Blogger, I would like this comment, then unlike it just so I could like it again.
    Thank you!


Tell me all your thoughts on cats.