Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Taking a breath

I was terrified.  I knew no one.  The dark gray halls surrounding me matched my mood.  There were bumps to my left side, then elbows to my right- every time I turned towards the taunters I was met with down turned eyes in concealment.  I clutched my books tighter, hugging them into my  belly, and kept on walking.  There were many moving feet in front of me, perhaps as many behind- everyone scurrying like little mice through the maze of hallways before that next shrill bell sounded..  Back then, I didn't know how to assert myself, I was doomed as a relocated Freshman from an inner city big school to a small time hick farm school.  The country kids hated me and I let them.  That is until I met Mrs. Cardoni.

I was stuck in Spanish class, Spanish!  As if I'd ever cross the border...this was back in the 70's and America was tops- in our speech, our dress and in our vacation destinations.   If it wasn't bad enough being hated the moment you walked through entrance doors that were open but only in a very narrow way, it got even bleaker with  involuntary  enrollment in Spanish class.  And then to be made to sit in the front row.  Long legs, little desks, blushing easily- probably a little gassy too, nerves do that you know.  

"Hola Senorita!"  Cardoni was on it the minute I sat down.

I wanted to say to the teacher, "Please leave me alone, draw no attention to me- can't you see I'm a wounded animal here!  Caged with no where to run and everyone ready to pounce, oh please senorita hola someone else!!!"

Of course I didn't say that, hell I couldn't speak Spanish and I sure as heck wasn't getting much out in English either...I was terrified.  I did feel caged.  And now this little statured, tussled haired teacher was taunting me too.  I made eye contact, for just a split second- surely she could see the burn down in my soul.

"Hola Senorrri-ta!" she said again,  rolling her rr's off of her tongue like a dart and delivering the poison with ta.

I tried to open my mouth to speak then, I would just mimic her like a parrot- I did not want to die on top of everything else, surely later I might slither out of there, maybe not intact but still alive enough to crawl on my belly- like a reptile.

But then an unacceptable error was made, someone took up where Mrs. Cardoni left off-

"Hola Senorita!  What's wrong with you, you deaf?"  said a rather stupid guy.  Then the whole stupid class, well maybe not all of them- started to tease and taunt too.  They proved themselves even more stupid when Cardoni turned and gave them all an evil sweet look, thinking she was on their side they took it up a peg, with laughing and howling mixed in.
Wham!  A tiny hand from that smallish woman slammed down on my desk- I knew it had to hurt, but her face showed no suffering.  She had a look of complete resolve while her hand lay flat and still.  Not once did her voice raise but she  managed to put emphasis on NEVER IN MY CLASS IDIOTS by spitting and slamming that hand down again.
I really thought I was in trouble then,  I started all this...no slithering away for me, she must be ready to chop me up in a little pieces.  She faced the class, still with her fingers lightly touching my desk- as if a connection had been made and this was her charging station, she lifted up her other hand and pointed.
Cardoni's pointing tactic was much like the Wicked Witch of the West's way....remember how she squinted her eyes, and she stated more quietly though with utmost certainty-
 "Ill get you my pretty..."  
The kind of finger pointing that draws you into target range instead of leading your eyes to the safe distance away.
She sneered, orbiting the room with that finger while not saying another word.  She looked like a gypsy delivering quiet curses.  The kids knew that a spell had been cast and all were doomed, surely they hated me even more.  The bell went off but she was still pointing, leering and and no one knew whether to rise or fall.   Finally, she dropped her arm and everyone got up to leave.  Mrs. Cardoni was not through with me yet, she gently raised the same finger towards me and winked.
"Sit Senorita" she said.
After everyone had left the class, I sat there- silent and sick.  Cardoni traveled up towards her desk, twisted herself around so she was half leaning against it, with her short feisty legs extend fully in front of her and her arms folded serenely across her chest.
"Hola Senorita."  She said.
I thought I was going to cry if I opened my mouth, my lips must have trembled- although I was not going to allow myself to cry, I sincerely could not help it.  I made no sound  as a few silent tears trickled over and down my cheeks before I could swipe  them off.  My resolve must have showed too, Mrs. Cardoni caved and cared enough to give me a pep talk that turned the tide for me, the foreigner.   She became my first real friend that day.  It only took that secret wink from her to renew my spirit as I shuffled through my high school daze.
(Incidentally, she was my journalism teacher- the one subject I excelled at personally in school.  She gave us all great freedom in that class, though it could be revoked immediately if you did not appreciate it and act accordingly.)

I tell that story because it has so many similarities in relocating from one's home state to one's new home in a state that is erroneously  known for keeping outsiders outside.  I believed all that, even though I reasoned beforehand that it would be OK after all, because I love my solitude.  In time, I would make friends- I was not all that eager to do anything other than to just settle in, find some peace.  I needed peace.  I needed beauty.  I needed Maine because it offered all of that in it's very own natural way.  The Big Fish and I were already the best of friends and certainly acted upon it with our walks and drives, star gazing and lake cruising.  But shopping at grocery stores and local restaurants- I began to go back to my Freshman days, expecting cruelty, unkindness and in part, I received it.
I was in that maze again of  gray hallways, I didn't know my way and  held close to my chest- everything.  I reasoned that they'd never accept me, they're not friendly so I'd just stick close to me and mine, protecting my spirit once again by not asserting it.
I often struggle with being fearful.   It has taken me a very long time to let my spirit take control- when allowed to soar, the spirit's potential goes beyond measure.  Mrs. Cardoni taught me that, her's was a fierce and assertive spirit.  She never left it at the door like so many other teachers had- I believe that woman was all spirit in the classroom.  She was fully aware of  where her source of power came from.  The woman never lost her humanity, she connected by fingers on a desk, glares across the room- but always on the other side of those tactics was love.  She never let up, never backed down because she also realized the potential in each of us and never let us forget it.  It took me many years right on up to this point to realize her nature, to remember what she taught me.  It is fine and well and good to come to those realizations, but 30 years to count a forgotten blessing?  Life is short, this minute, this very second- the time is at hand to do better.  Here.  Now.
So....with all that said, I am not living up to my full potential here.  In Maine, in blogging, in anything really.  I am kind yes, I try to be the best possible human I can be, but at the cost of my spirit taking a back seat to where my head and heart want to drive.  I am where I am because I needed to be here...I don't know why, I truly don't know how- but on that day several years back, when I was struck alive by these very words-

."...it is a true wonder I breathe at all."

I still have that remarkable wonder, or it has me.  It is the way I want to live and/or be.  My spirit is authentic, my head and heart- not so much.   It is good to be alive, it is wondrous to take breath in, let it out.  Living, leafs, rain, seasons changing- all profound.
It is not enough to write about it, anyone can do that, say that.  To begin living it more fully with much work to do is on my plate and this blog will just have to take a back seat.  Once a week it seems I feel more of an obligation  in writing content than enjoying it as I use to.  Which is absolutely no reflection what so ever on the friends I have made through it- I will continue to read you as I can. I learn  and have learned so much from people I have never met yet who are openly and abundantly kind to all.

Life is school,  learn your lessons and then- graduate.  

Where I frequently find myself these days is out there- not in here.  In being still, first I remember then I give it up or over to what I am sensing, living in that moment.  And I can only assume that will bore the hell out of people...to say over and over "I am in awe".  Every day- awe.  At rest each night- thankful.

I will post from time to time, but according to no schedules.  I am coming up on three years of blogging- the true calling I found led me up to this point, in so many words and pictures.  I thank you for appreciating my take, I have invited guest writers here who have a deep yearning to share a bit of their lives and experiences.  I hope for every one's sake- they take me up on it.

Take care-


walk2write said...

This post is beautiful and heartfelt. There are more sensitive people out there than you realize. I feel kind of the same way about blogging. Some weeks I can take it or leave it, but then something will spark a memory or light up a thought that just begs to be let out. It's better for me that I don't ignore it.

Rhiannon said...

This post is ironic b/c I use the excuse that I don't shop at the IGA in my "new town" b/c the prices are higher and the produce isn't as good. But the majority of the reason is, they look at me and know I don't belong there. They aren't friendly and they don't want to be. I totally get it. But I need to force myself in, make them be my friends. And maybe just maybe start ... my cooking blog :)

Enjoy the awe and the wonder.

Jane said...

Many cyber hugs coming your way. I remember when you made your move to Maine and am sorry that you have found finding your niche to be so very slow. I know that it time it will come for you. You are a real trooper!


Jayne said...

I love how you can be so open, honest, and vulnerable my friend. It's one of the many, many reasons I've grown to love your little spot in cyberspace here. I don't think I've ever read a post here that did not resonate or touch me in some way, and I thank you for that. I for one will miss your presence here and hope you can return with the words freely flowing some day. I often wonder why I am so compelled to continue the blog too... maybe one day I'll be able to let go some too. Love and warm hugs to you as you find your way in Maine. Keep in touch.

troutbirder said...

I need to think about what you have written. I find myself cutting more ties these days than making them. I'm not sure why.
In the meantime we're heading off to Ireland for a bit and no I won't be kissing any rock.
Be good to yourself now....

bam said...

hey darlin, i just happened to wander over here, and look what i found---your time-out. i know that feeling, darlin. i think this blogging thing wears itself out. starts to feel like too much navel-gazing, too much letting the world in on your soul, and oh lordy, why are we taking up airspace?? i know i have learned from every time i read you. and i know i learned mightily from sitting with you, listening to you unfold your heart. you will always be true wonder, whether you type or just plain live....

go in peace, darlin. go in light. you know where to find me.....and i will look up for the northern stars and know they shine on you.....and know, too, that your bright light is reflected up on them, and that's why they sparkle in my nightsky.

sending love. hope you find this.....