first love

There once was a man with golden hair and eyes like a forever sky. I don't really remember much about him except the moments when he seemed most himself, when he was singing.

With his guitar in the hill-ringed sunshine, singing and smiling, encouraging us to sing too, until we felt like we were magic.

And I remember that he brought me stories. Maybe that is why I love writing stories. Because once, a long and lonely time ago, someone brought them to me to make me smile.




He was my teacher. I mean that literally, not in some wistful dreamy way. He taught me maths, writing, music. I don't remember how old I was. Somewhere between six or seven though, because in my seventh year my parents divorced and we moved away from hills and forests and magic and song. All my teachers after that were women, at least until I was old enough not to care what they were. I'm not saying women teachers aren't special too, but they can not offer a little girl quite exactly what a gentle, kind-eyed, caring male teacher can. So yes, he was my teacher in a wistful dreamy way too. Before movies and novels promoted tough, dangerous, mono-syllabic men to me, he made sure I knew and loved the power of masculine tenderness.

I kept him in my heart so securely that, some thirty years later, when I read in the newspaper that he'd died, I wrote a public remembrance for him. I of course would have been just another student to him, utterly unremembered. I had been a thin-boned, quiet child whose eyes changed colour all the time; I lived at the wild edges of the playgrounds, and read stories so much that the little school ran out of them. He must have given books to plenty of girls like me. And maybe they too learned that their unspoken dreams were seen, and were important. I hope so.

My childhood was blessed with many guardians. Like Mr Robson, the minstrel teacher with poetry in his soul. And Mrs Milne, the wise, brown-haired woman who let me drift out of class into ancient, haunted landscapes in my mind, and always knew how to bring me back safely before the lunchbell rang. This is good teaching, this is. Not anything about alphabets and sciences. Teachers are shamans. Sometimes, when I think of mine, I almost regret homeschooling my child. But of course, I was lucky in my experience. On the plateau surrounded by hills and quiet, magic walked. And sometimes it reached out, held a hand, drew a human along with it - like me, and Mr Robson I think, and almost certainly Mrs Milne.

I went to a wizardry school, long long before I ever knew it.


(joining with kim klassen for texture tuesday)

12 comments:

  1. Indeed, you are quite lucky. I don't recall having any teachers who had that profound an effect on me as a young child. I had a few as I grew older, but nothing to the degree with which you speak. Must have been lovely.

    Many blessings, Sarah.

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  2. Interestingly, but unrelated, my favorite teacher as a child was a male too. He always told a great story.

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  3. Beautiful photo, but the way you weave words, well, it's stunning!

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  4. I have a deep and abiding respect and admiration for teachers, and like you, I owe my salvation to a few. I just read a quote in Bella Grace magazine that matches the tone of your story. "When people care for you and cry for you, they straighten out your soul." - Langston Hughes. Your photo (is this a self-portrait?) reveals just a hint of the tender heart that lies within. Thank you for this thoughtful and kind post.

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  5. So now I have goosebumps and teary eyes ... what a beautiful story ... and your image is beyond amazing, mysterious and beautiful.

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  6. Beautiful, tender image and lovely story.

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  7. What a lovely photo and tribute to a great man. I wonder if we realize how much influence we can have on a young person's life.

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  8. Beautiful story and lovely images . . . i love how you weave words together, so beautiful.

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  9. Beautiful story. Wonderful images. Really like your header image. I was fortunate to have a magical teacher, too. This was is Junior High School in Los Angeles, California. The class he taught was Agriculture. BUT, he taught us so much more about life and the world around us. He was magical and created a curious mind in me that has lasted a lifetime.

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  10. I wish I had your kind of teachers. public school in a large city is just not the same, teachers there trend not to like their jobs and they like the students even less, I mean, there were good ones but they too get a little stress, I guess it's good that they and we, got the summers off. I think I might even have been a different kind of person if I had gone to school somewhere else or if I was homeschooled. I guess people influences me more than I wanted them to.

    hope you have a great day.

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  11. Mr. Metheny, Mr. Lankford, Dr. Loveys...I would have to struggle to remember my lady-teacher's names, but these two live on in my mind and heart with so much gratitude. They both brought certain books and writings to my awareness, opened up doors within me. And I established warm, platonic, fleeting relationships with each of them beyond the classroom. Thank you for leading me to think of them this morning...

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