It's not easy for me to trust people. I'm learning that. I think I trust myself. But I'm slowly realizing that I'm not an island.
No matter how many times I listen to the Simon and Garfunkel song:
"I have my books, and my poetry to protect me.
I am shielded in my armor.
Hiding in my room
Safe within my womb
I touch no one and no one touches me....
I am a rock
I am an Island. " ~S&G
I can't tell you how many times I've listened to that song, belting out that particular refrain. I'm laughing now, thinking of the fifteen year old me in the eighties holding onto 1960's music.
Anyway, the oddest thing is happening to me lately. I've fallen in love. Unexpectedly.
With my students!
They are mean. They are on the last leg of a long journey. Some have been in prison, some are on there way there. Many are 16 and pregnant. All of them are angry. None of them are here because they want to be. They have trust issues. Like me.
So I'm able to coax them, cajole them, convince them that they are amazing. And in doing so, I'm realizing my own worth.
"I love you," I say to them and little girl Suzanne opens her arms.
"You amaze me every single day!" I say to them and little girl Suzanne creeps toward me.
"How smart you are!" I exclaim, and little girl Suzanne smiles.
She smiles and then they smile. I can't explain those smiles. They almost crack the faces of these kids so used to scowling. So used to beatings and being misunderstood.
I don't know how much US History or Civics they are learning. But man, am I learning something. And at least I know they love me back. They leave their things in my room. They smile at me in the hall. They come to my defense when the administration admonishes me for my unorthodox approach to teaching.
And one even offered to total my car for me. Really. It was after I was complaining that I needed a new car and my husband wasn't really wanting to spend the money.
After class one of them came in and sat down.
"Ms?" he asked.
"You know..." he took his hat off and looked down at his feet. "You know.. I could steal your car and make sure it's totaled. You could get the insurance..."
I laughed a little and told him that it wouldn't be necessary. But I thanked him.
And then I walked out of the building full of--- LOVE. And trust too.
I'd take these kids with me to my island. I sure would.