Lunch Hour

My head was going a million miles a minute.

I had shown my favorite teacher, Mr. H., a short story I’d written.  It was for an upcoming writing contest that I’d lost the previous year (only very subtly naming the main character Dennis, which was Mr. H’s first name).   He wanted to meet with me over lunch hour to discuss it.

I’d learned a ton last year in Mr. H’s class.  My enjoyment of it became peppered with the positive feedback that he gave back to me; I was a promising writer, and I knew it.  He knew it too, and made no secret of how he felt about my prospects as a writer.  He tutored me on word processing in the computer lab on lunch hours so I could write and save my work onto disks, allowing easy edits.  This was a major step up from the steno books I’d always used for my writing.   Back then, the idea that you could save your rough draft and then go back and edit it, without redoing the whole thing, was a novel idea that not everyone could wrap their brain around.   But I was a quick study, and Mr. H seemed to enjoy his enthusiastic student despite my raging crush on him.

Things felt safer this year, because I knew my lunch hours with him were equal now on both sides.  I knew better than to think Mr. H’s attentions were anything more than a teacher who appreciated his student, and now I wasn’t crushing on him every time he turned his back.  I had a bonafide boyfriend now, one that was inspiring all sorts of amazing feelings and emotions that I’d never experienced before.  So meeting with Mr. H on my lunch hour felt completely normal and not a scheme to spend more time with him.

Mr. H asked me first how everything was going.   He knew a little of what had gone on in my family last year because I’d written some about it during his class; I was in it while all of the worst of it happened.  I talked some about my family, about my father, about my mother, and mostly about how alone I felt most of the time.  He was sympathetic, and asked questions.  Before I knew it, lunch hour was over and we hadn’t discussed my writing at all.

As I packed up my books and walked to my sixth period Algebra class, I marveled:  here was an adult who took time out of his busy schedule, just to talk to me.  Not about work, or my writing, or about anything related to his job, but just to check in with me and make sure I was OK.  He wasn’t getting paid to do it, he just honestly seemed to be concerned.

Hmph.  I didn’t know what to make of it.  But I knew, as I walked down that hallway that I suddenly felt better, more important.  Someone cared.  Someone I admired and respected wanted to make sure I was OK.  Not my crazy, mixed up brother, but me.  Me.

It sounded so simple, but yet my head couldn’t process it.  When you think your whole life that you’re not worth very much, evidence to the contrary is hard to make sense of.

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