from a public HS teacher (Gov't, Religion, Soc. Issues), who is eclectic (Dem-leaning) politically and Quaker (& open) on everything else. Hope you enjoy what you find here.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Your happiest memory 

There was diary and a series of comments about this on dailykos, which you can read here

I decided to post a comment. Given its contents, I decided I would cross-post here. Read, and I hope you enjoy.

in October 1974 -- an explanation
On September 21 1974 I had encountered at the Bryn Mawr train station the 17 year old daughter of people I knew from the church I then attended.  I had seen her around, both at church, and when she had visited the College (from which I finally graduated in 1973 at almost age 27  -- at the moment of this encounter I am 28  -- bear that in mind).  She was taking a year off between high school and Harvard to concentrate on her ballet.  We vaguely knew one another, but had to this point had a grand total of two conversations.

We began to chat, the train was late, so when we got to Suburban station she had missed her connecting train out to her parents' home in Wallingford (near Media).  So I offered to take her out of a cup of coffee and a piece of pie.  In that conversation, I realized how intelligent, perceptive, and sensitive she is.  To put it mildly, I was smitten.  

We celebrate that date  -- Sept 21, every year.   We also celebrate Sept. 27, which was our first formal date -- I took her out to dinner at a restaurant that no longer exists, with her parents' permission.  

The relationship was growing very quickly, albeit emotional and intellectual (and perhaps spiritually as well) and not physically.  I realzied I had fallen / grown deeply in love with this young lady, and therefore it might be unfair to keep seeing her if the relationship were not reciprocal, especially given that she had never had a date with anyone else -- she had been too busy with school and ballet and writing her poetry.

For several days I did not speak with her, trying to give her room to decide what she wanted to do.  I did touch base with her Mom every day or so, just to see how she was doing.  Then one day when I called her Mom said, "J... wants to talk to you."  Her first words were "First, I want to tell you I love you."  I probably would have trouble recalling the other words, because they did not matter.  Nothing else mattered.

I was calling from a payphone in a bar along Lancaster Pike in Bryn Mawr.  It was full of students from Villanova, and was incredibly noisy, I remember that.  I also remember going up the hill towards Rosemont where I then lived  -- please note that I said "going."  I cannot say "walking" or "running" because those terms would be inaccurate.   I was FLOATING.  

We did not marry until 1985, December 29.  We had that first year in '75-75 together before she went to college, then four years while she was at Harvard, three more while she was at Oxford, and when we finally were again in the same city we had to make major adjustments in our relationship  -- fior the first time in a  long time the "little things" required a kind of surrender that I at least had not had to deal with it.  But we survived, first in Philadelphia, then moving to Arlington VA late in 1982.

I can say with total certainty that the statement she made that day, that she loved me, has remained for the past 20+ years.  There has never been a time when she has not loved me.  I cannot say that I have been as steadfast, because in my insecurity I have doubted, wondered, wanted to run away, although the sustaining power of her love has always been there to which I could return and be comforted.   her trust and faith in me has been near absolute, and while I might doubt myself, I would never betray that trust and love.

We are both difficult people, although I am probably far more difficult.  That I write on blogs at all is largely because of her belief in me, that I had something of value to say to others, and that I could express myself in writing  -- when we started back in 1974 I would not have considered myself even a decent writer.

Most of all, I would not be a teacher without her love and support.  I was at a reunion of my original class at Haverford in 1992, chatting with a friend who was about to become a principal.  I told stories from the 6 months when I had been a teacher intern at a Quaker secondary school, the academic year before our relationship began [after I had dropped out of my first doctoral program, this in music].  When we were heading back to the room in which we were staying, she told me "You know, when you tell those stories about M---- Friends, your eyes light up and you become a different person.  Maybe you should consider becoming a teacher."  I took me almost two years to accept the wisdom of that insight, and in 1994 I quit my job to get trained as a teacher, and I have been in my own classroom  since Dec 8, 1995.  My decision has meant that she has had to work fulltime, and not devote as much time to her own scholarship and writing.  It has at times placed a real financial strain upon us.  But it was the right decision, which she prompted and has always supported.

When she comes to visit my classes, as she does at least once every year, she can see things in moment that I do not realize.  She also helps me to be more vulnerable to my students, which is quite important in how I teach.

So, I have bloviated far longer than will most people in response to the question in the diary.  I will be 59 in May.  That means for more than half of my life I have been loved by this remarkable woman.  How can any day other than the one she first told me she loved me be the best day in my life?

And thanks for asking the question.
September 21, 1974 was the day my Father died. weird.
sorry for your loss

but it is still my most memorable, and happiest, day.

thanks for posting
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