I’m remembering the heat of July at SUNY’s Old Main building before central air and renovation: the obstacles to our comfort. But now, in the luxury of the remodel, I am in heaven. I arrive early enough to select my parking spot in the front of the building or in back. I walk to the elevator and it is waiting to lift me up to the 2nd floor. Just me and my array of bags, of course.
And I arrive and make my way to the last room in the maze of hallways. We are just before the bathrooms. In the old days I had to pick my personal bathroom breaks selectively, after all the closest bathroom to our 3rd floor classrooms was back down on the second floor, way down on the second floor. I luxuriate in the modern version of Old Main!
It’s early and quiet and the soft hum of the cool AC air keeps me awake. The table has been laid for today’s breakfast by Jennie and the group is still following Christine’s healthy modeling. I wonder if today I will actually eat the lunch I put together :)
Camille steps up with an intriguing prompt moving us to write about difficult events in our lives and many race to share in Christine’s elegant author’s chair.. It’s a great start!
Jackie logs with a Wordle, Heather has her TIW reflection and Sarah, her photos and everyone is comfortably already on the blog.
Rebecca steps up confidently with her TIW focused on the study of illustration and text inspired by mentor Katie Wood Ray. I find that this Si I am engaged, anchored in the TIWs, fully present comfortable. I find myself though, hating the drawing section of the work. I am remembering my own inadequacy when it comes to art. Yes, I have artist friends but me, I am an appreciator. I am impressed with Rebecca’s movement to the groups, engaging with each of us, supporting us, asking questions, mentoring. She am visualizing her with her 2nd graders.
We move through her workshop, examining her student work, sharing our observations. She is grateful for our time and effort. I am thinking deeply about what happened to me in elementary art.
We set up the Writing Groups strand and send the groups off for some writing and sharing. Christine and I spend time focusing on playing with Google’s We Videos as our platform for teaching the SI participants about digital stories. It has gotten easier since the last time I opened it when I was working with Jack two years ago. Much better than Photo Story 3. Not iMovie, but we have lots of Mac users who are interested in taking on iMovie, so we can work on both platforms.
Maybe we provided too much time for the first writing group, hoping that they would all break and write, but a break is good. Everyone returns from lunch with more of our SI life under their belts and time to prepare for Odell’s Community Reading session. It’s a good piece but I let the conversation go a bit, inspired by the text to write about my own writing life and the first adult story I wrote about my torments as a kid in my 5th grade classroom with Mary Otens. Where is that piece? Time for a rewrite?
We linger a bit with the team but we are exhausted and I am anxious to get in my car and ride over the mountain to Ellenville for dinner with my dad and time with my brother and s-i-l on July 10, my mom’s birthday.
The ride is breath-taking and I take it slower than usual. Just before I hit town, I am passing the cemetery. I double back, ride my car up through the open gate and stop at my mom’s spot. I am alone, surrounded by the Jewish dead of our town. Of course, it’s me, and I race back to the car for my camera. It’s muggy still but peaceful. I walk among the tombstones, recognizing the names of the dead. I recall each one vividly.
I sit with my mom and I am remembering my first theater experience with Our Town. I was in the 7th grade and that year Our Town was the senior play. The boy/man who played George was a guy named Marvin who I watched (not stalked) from a far, my crush of sorts. I was so tiny and he was a school star. Here in the play, as the lead, I let the fantasy engulf me. Until we moved from the romance of dating to marriage and then… death? really?
The grave yard scenes hit me hard as a 7th grader and I never forgot that first experience with Wilder. One of my favorite plays even now. I started to consider life and death then. As I sat with my mom, I thought about that first experience with Our Town.
It was good to leave for life. My dad was waiting and I would not be sharing this experience with him. In the early months after my mom’s death he came to visit her every day but since the unveiling of the stone he would break down when he visited and finally decided it was too much for him. The stone seemed to make her death more real.
We went out to dinner and it was good to be with him.
Another rich day for me.