O Heavy Lightness

Slice 23 and me

“I’m so sorry this crease on the cover is because of how the book was pressed in my backpack (the crease is basically nonexistent) and I also think I found the entire pile of books you’ve given me so far this year I’ll bring them to you at the end of the day.”

Makes sense the kid who did the second thing is also the one worried about the first. I spend so much time worrying that I can’t get certain kids to catch the reading or writing bug. A love of lit, or at least an understanding of the importance of being able to communicate and decipher anything purposely being drilled into their brains by the world with intentions nefarious or otherwise.

I read all of the Stephen King at way too young an age. Like 8-10 years old. I was at my grandma’s a lot and she had them all laying around. I didn’t understand but was understandably cued into the smatterings of sex stuff and the murdery creepy Stephen King stuff wasn’t even really the highlight – I loved escaping into the worlds and knowing the character development I was tracking (somewhat, in retrospect) was something for smarter people than I was. 

And for whatever reason I decided in like 4th grade that I loved penguins because of the whole monogamy thing. Right after that they showed us Romeo and Juliet without even considering what Olivia Hussey’s Juliet’s plunging neckline would do to young men already knee deep in even just Hallmark understandings of romantic love. That was it. Not only did I have to bridge King and the Bard but I had to envelope a good deal of my budding identity with what I felt they represented.

By sophomore year I was a poet who liked everything weird there was. I saw Basketball Diaries, mostly glossed over the themes of Jim Carroll’s struggles amidst a young Leo’s excellent depiction, and focused mainly on that rolled up notebook of cool in his back pocket. It was mostly affect, I know, that led me to bars in my earliest 20s with a similar notebook in my back pocket – ready to be whipped out and scrawled upon by bad beer number 5 or too-sweet shot number 2. Anyone who’d seen the movie knew exactly where I got this artistic “inspiration” and why it was pretty poseur of me. But I didn’t care. And then of course Leo played Romeo for Luhrman and my community college published a research paper/essay I did on the film. Full circle. Lollerskates.

And not only have I become the teacher you’d think a kid I just described would become, but I try real hard to make these kids little me’s. Dude, I was weird, so there are frustrations when I forget sometimes. But I did see a little of that weird guy in the girl this morning. Or at least a hint of him, compared to the kids I’m still BEGGING to read ONE BOOK using the link to the audiobook I found them. But the fact that I don’t give up – on being open-minded to abstract art, on maybe one day having the time to create some sort of publishable writing, on the idea of romantic poetic flawed imperfect wonderful love – or on these kids, tells me that odd little writerly bookworm would be ok with how I turned out. 

2 thoughts on “O Heavy Lightness

  1. I love this post. I somehow got drug into your classroom and saw your student through your own reflection. Does that make sense? Franco Zefferelli’s “R & J” was a deal breaker for me- but in actuality it was probably Leonard Whiting’s butt. . . .

    Liked by 1 person

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