Wednesday, August 22, 2012

{When Desire Just Isn't Enough}

I'm still remembering the hesitancy I felt when I was returning back to my high school for one of the first times after I had graduated. I don't remember if it was THE first time back, but I know it was definitely my first time back as a professional. That's right...a professional. AKA: a substitute teacher!
I was a wild card in high school. But never in that deck of cards was that chance that I'd be the student that sat there working and behaving perfectly and never saying a word. The "wild" part would be more like how chatty I was going to be, how respectably I would respond to authority, when I would decide to follow rules, when I would decide to show up for class, etc. I was mischievous, hot and cold, and often disengaged. There have definitely been worse students than me, but there have definitely been better. And nicer. And quieter. And, well....just better.
So walking into my high school at a young 20 years old to be a peer with teachers 
{that I had possibly given hell?} was reason enough to have me tipping the discomfort barometer to the far right side. As I entered the doors, I was quickly greeted by my ex-assistant principal- the one whose office I'd sat in with my mom at my side. I still remember his face going bright red as he repeated one of my choicer sentences. My mom needed to be in the know and a meeting was necessary before I was allowed back in school. And when you're speaking, there's not the option of throwing in a few of these #@&*% to disguise the shock of the obscenities. He said it out loud and we all soaked up the awkwardness of the meeting. That wasn't my only unfortunate encounter with him. 
But I could tell when our eyes met and he recognized me as a reformed pain-in-the-butt...all those "encounters" were forgotten. His hospitality set me at ease.
I made my way up to the third floor and got my classroom in order. Or not. Subs don't really have to get a classroom in order, apparently, so I found myself with a few minutes to spare. Which I thought would be a great opportunity to go say hi to one of my teachers that I liked and got along with. Sure, I was a bit annoying in her class and Taneal and I were banned from being in the same class together, but I was never bad. I made my way over to where I remembered her classroom to be, and sure enough, it was as if time hadn't skipped a beat. She still had residence there and, in fact, was holding position right outside the classroom door waiting for students to file in, just as she had done when I was a student. I walked up to her with an overly-large grin on my face, as I often do when I'm a bit nervous, and said hi. She remembered me and asked what I was doing back. I laughed and said, "Well, I'm a substitute teacher! Can you believe they let me back in?!!" I mean, it was the obvious joke, right?!! She looked me dead in the eyes and gave me the obvious response, "Well, I hope your students treat you as bad as you treated your teachers." I kinda laughed again, but her eye contact didn't shift and her mouth was set in stone, a perfect curveless line right across her face. And to make sure I understood....she said it again, "I hope your students treat you as bad as you treated your teachers." It was a very awkward ending to an even more awkward...conversation, for lack of better I mumbled something off and walked away.
I was shocked.
 I had strategically picked the teacher I was going to say hi to. You know, dipping just my toes in before jumping full-body into the cold water.
 This was no toe-dipping session. This was total body shock after an ice-cold reception. 
I was still mulling over her words as I walked back to my assigned classroom when I passed yet another familiar teacher. One I had forgotten about. Probably out of necessity. Maybe some sort of PTS tactic. Is that the acronym for blocking out trauma?
Because in this classroom, I was borderline mean. And this teacher had been the one who caught me.....{why is this still so humiliating/embarrassing/humbling to admit all these years later}.....stealing a test. I wasn't taking the exam with the rest of the class due to a legit absence. Somehow she chose my desk to lay the stack of tests on before distributing them to all the students. And being the mischievous teenager  I was, I grabbed one. A study guide, if you will.
And in line with being the novice I was, I grabbed the number one test. That's right...she had all the tests numbered and in order in the stack, so the absence of #1 was very conspicuous. I took the test the next day and my parents got the call the day after that. The rest is all lost to the PTS. But it doesn't really matter. I'm sure the teacher handled it well, I'm sure I continued in my bone-headed ways.
So when I unexpectedly saw her standing outside her own classroom door, I probably hesitated to stop and give the sheepish hello. My confidence had just been slaughtered and I was ready to neither fake a converastion nor get kicked again.
But eye contact had already been made and the confrontation was going to happen. True to protocol, my smile got bigger than my face and my hello was accompanied by a bit of giggling. I gave her the same song and dance, that I had gone to college, got my Associates, and now here I was....substitute teaching, trying to figure out what was next. 
She, too, firmly grabbed my eyes in preparation for her next sentence....
"It's great to hear that you're doing so well and that you've come such a long way."
There was the warmth I was looking for. And not just on my toes. It was full-body immersion of warmth.
It was completely unexpected.
This encounter has been on my mind lately after years of absence. As these two contrasting responses, these two contrasting people, these two contrasting hearts... keep playing in my mind, so does the repetitive probing moral of the story,
"Who am I?" 
The answer of who I want to be is obvious. But the honest, introspective look begs for more than mere desire....
Who am I?
here I am:


  1. Oh Gizay! How vividly I remember the grief we gave that teacher that broke my heart when she refused to let us have class together. I mean I was amazingly funny (a class clown if u will).... Just imagine the awesomeness if we coulda caused mischief together. While I too remember it all to be in good fun I realize now we cant control how people see us! But to answer ur question of who are u... I say ur a beautiful blue eyed beauty who makes me laugh. A thoughtful, insightful, deep, honest, loyal mother, writer, runner, and friend! I keep us in mind when dealing with discipline. I love to find the greatness in that kiddo that steals tests and throws skittles :) love ya -t-

    1. dang thanks for all the compliments, t! what i'm really thinking though am i more the person that can forgive and let someone progress into a new self or do i hold on to past grudges/issues, etc? i seriously don't even remember us being that bad. now ms koch on the other hand......

      xoxo gizay

  2. It's crazy how different our expectations turn out to be when we're faced with reality - good or bad. It's also crazy to think about actually figuring out who we are - although I'm not sure we ever do. Who we are revolves around who we are trying to become, the people we surround ourselves with, our dreams, our hopes and so many other factors. And these things, they change constantly - so we change too. So who we are today will probably be different than who we are tomorrow.

  3. I'll tell you what, I don't want to be the kind of person that can't wish the best for people and be happy when things are going well for them. Good reminder that people are always evolving and why not expect the best?

  4. After your guest post on bon bon's site I just had to come by and say hello! Love the name, I have a boyish name so I feel ya :)

    xo Shane

  5. I loved this post, because you are so honest about your high school self! I wish I could go back to those high school days, and treat the teachers and everyone kinder.


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