Saturday, March 18, 2017
I ain't all that social anymore. In elementary and high school, I believed (as did many of my coevals) that being in a swarm of friends was evidence that I was alive. The more there were, the more alive I was. Later, friendships dwindled as I began hanging out more and more with those (few) folks who shared my interests--and, okay, my social and religious and political beliefs.
When I began teaching in the fall of 1966, I attached myself to those teachers whom I most admired. I was determined to learn from them--and this is a tactic I employed until my final day in June 2011. I'd long ago discovered that you learn most from people you admire--whatever age they are. Occasionally, I would "officially" observe classes of younger colleagues (as part of some evaluation process or another), and, even near the end, I marveled at how much more I had to learn.
l had some close friends when I was teaching. But lives get complicated. I became a father, a grandfather. I retired. But there remain in the world quite a few people--men and women--whom I admire and love. But I don't see them very often. Weeks, even months, can go by when I socialize only with family. It happens--or, at least, it's happened to me.
But this week has been an exception. On Sunday past we did have a nice dinner-and-visit with our son and his family. On Wednesday night, Joyce and I had dinner with a former colleague and principal, Jerry Brodsky, who had invited us to do a joint presentation at his book club--a presentation about writing: how we proceed and organize, that sort of thing. We had a great time, and I vowed that I would never again let a month go by without seeing Jerry and Cindy, who have been friends since the early 1970s.
On Friday morning, an old friend from college days, Jim Vincent, stopped by the coffee shop for a talk of a couple hours. Jim was one of my mother's finest students at Garfield High School in Garrettsville, but I got to know him better at Hiram College (he's a year older). He's had a great career--teaching, traveling (it seems he's always overseas--and plans to teach in Cyprus next year), though he still lives in the Garrettsville house he grew up in.
And this morning, in that same coffee shop, I got a surprise visit from Len Spacek, who replaced me at Harmon School in Aurora when I retired in January 1997. The school--knowing I was going to retire mid-year--had hired him as a kind of permanent sub for the fall, but he spent a lot of time in my room and with my students.He's still there, still teaching 8th graders. He still teaches some of the texts I did: The Call of the Wild, Much Ado about Nothing among them. We had a great talk for a while this morning, and I may go back to Harmon one day this spring to do my Wild PowerPoint and talk about the book and the Yukon etc. with his kids.
He's just recently published on Kindle Direct a YA novel about a football team--The Final Play (link to Amazon listing for the book). I bought a copy; it's not here yet. Food for a future post!
Anyway, I enjoyed these visits and "outings." As I said, as I've gotten older, retreating into routine: coffee shop (for early-morning reading), writing, lunch with Joyce, coffee shop (afternoon reading and doggerel-writing!), health club, supper and "evening drive" with Joyce. To bed with a pile of books ... and some streaming TV ...
Old Guys are notorious for being annoyed at having their routines disturbed by ... you know ... people. But I have to say that this week--although Annoyance did stand in the shadows (distant shadows)--I resisted him. And had a wonderful time.