Pages

11.21.2013

MY FIRST LOVE AFFAIR (an excerpt)


 
My first love affair happened when I was quite young.  It happened in seventh grade.  I was quite young by some standards, but really old by others. 
 
Mrs. Nelson was her name.
 
 
Mrs. Nelson was my seventh grade English teacher.  And, by the time I rolled into seventh grade at 12 years of age, Mrs. Nelson was a seasoned veteran.  She had teaching down to an art and exemplified a tenured teacher with her plump body, cardigan sweater and pockets stuffed with Kleenex.  She perpetually seemed to have a cold, using nose spray like it was oxygen.  In fact, she might be the reason that certain over the counter cold medicines are kept behind the pharmacy now.

She did not have an inviting demeanor with her addictive nose spraying, blowing her nose and general grumpy hap-hazard ways. Though she had a soft side for kids. That’s where my love affair started for all things English, with Mrs. Nelson.  She still has a place in my heart for what she awakened in me.
 
I found diagramming sentences interesting - how words were organized in patterns, supporting each other, painting pictures.  It piqued my mind.  A world opened up to me.  Words were creative and open and able to be arranged to cause emotion, thought, reaction.  I saw words in a new way.  My torrid life love affair had begun.

Since I was a little kid my mind has been like a big movie screen.  Whenever I heard verbage or music, smelled scents, or read words, my interpretation would play on my mental screen.  Things were in high definition in my head long before the real technology came on the scene!  It still works that exact same way for me.  



Occasionally words would slip from my mouth at inappropriate times causing me to get conduct marks in school.  In Kindergarten it was, “she is bossy with others”.  In tenth grade algebra with Mr. Walters it was merely stated as one word, “questionable”.   I could mostly keep it in check when I was young, but as I aged and grew into my own skin small eruptions began.
 
The youngest of 3 girls, my aggressive non-compliant ways did not follow suite with my two older sisters.  As I got into high school conflict ensued with my dad.  I wanted to be who I wanted to be, and my dad wanted me to be a better version of himself missing all the potholes that he felt had kept him from being all he could have been. [My dad is a great man and I'm not sure there is greater.]  Combine that with the natural process of blossoming freedom as a teenager and you have a bit of a scenario for conflict. 
 
My love of words and their power, both written and spoken, became what I wanted to pursue for a career.  It too would be one of the things of conflict between my father and I.  His financial career, upbringing and practicality came into play with parenting.  We only parent with what we know - me included!!  My desire to pursue creative writing in college was met with a halt, “You can’t make a living with a creative writing degree”, my dad said to me sitting in the Dean of the English Department's office at an upstate New York College, “Not many make it doing that.”



Those words would be powerful, even show-stopping for that part of my life and for many years.  So were my choices and reactions.  It would take me some years to find my voice and my words again.  Two elusive loves continued in me through the years and never abated – writing was one . . .

No comments:

Post a Comment