Saturday, September 12, 2015

Back to School

Most of the week has been the kind of blue sky days that come at the end of summer; just before the autumnal equinox. Beautiful and turning just a bit cooler so one can sleep with a light quilt -- so welcome after the sticky humidity, twisting and turning with sheet scrunching around and off you.
With Labor Day late, the ALL classes started on a later date than usual. I was very ready for the more structured weeks they bring. I LIKE structure and understand that many retirees are lost without it. I make structure when I don't have the schedule of classes -- my morning walks on the beach, the 750 words in the morning, checking the email, often some writing, reading blogs. I have quilting to do, writing to do, submissions to journals. Plenty to feel busy.

But the return to class schedules is very satisfying, especially my new class of writing students. Everyone is over 50, many WELL over 50, but I couldn't help remembering singing in grade school, "We're all in our places with bright shiny faces. Oh, this is the way we start a new day." I looking at the 16 or 18 people in my "Writing: True and Right" class, several of them familiar, several of them new to me, and felt that elation I used to feel in grade school -- because I LOVED school.

But it was a special day, Friday, a day to remember, so the first writing exercise, which I offered with some trepidation because I didn't know what emotions it would trigger, was to write about when you heard of the attack on the Twin Towers. I was in NYC, and I knew Lynn had been. I knew Suzanne had been in Washington, I supposed most others had been in New England. I was pained to discover one woman had lived in New Jersey and was close to several people who lose loved ones that day. But, all in all, I think it was good to do such an exercise.  It has been 14 years and, as my daughter pointed out to me, the in-coming freshmen at the high school where she works were infants, or perhaps only about to be born. They have lived in a world in which the news has regularly been full of stories about terrorism, with a war in the middle of it, spilling in a sloppy way into over areas. 

I remember clearly what a bright blue sky morning it was as i went to work and that, when I had to walk the three miles home, passing through a nearly empty Times Square (unimaginable! but it was true), the sky remained that same placid blue for I was walking uptown, my back turned to the chaos that continued at the south end of Manhattan.  Among the brief pieces of writing the students read only the woman from New Jersey spoke of very personal fear -- her grown children were working in the financial district. Not in the towers but, for all anyone knew at the time, perhaps vulnerable to further attack.  They will finish their short pieces of writing and read them next week. These students are of an age when they have grandchildren who will turn to them asking "what was it like?"  We all carry a burden of history, however involved or uninvolved we were in its events; it is our duty to answer those questions with honestly and as much clarity as remains in our memory.

1 comment:

barbara judge said...

Oh June -- your writing assignment will surely be full of feelings about that memorable day. I can remember exactly what I was doing when I found out. Please share some of the responses if you can -- realizing, of course, some may possibly not want public sharing of that tragic day. -- barbara