I have been visiting with My Former Life these last few days. Going back through my stories of various people and places, wrapping them about myself like a warm blanket to keep me company. It is comforting to me to reconnect with people who were so incredibly significant in my life at a certain moment in time. In some cases, it is the only place possible to do so.
In other cases, this blog has motivated me to reconnect with people from my past. I’ve done so most recently with one of my former high school teachers. Mr. V. He was probably my most significant influence during my senior year of high school. A year so full of torment and drama that I actually attempted suicide a week before Christmas that year.
To be honest, if it weren’t for Mr. V, things could have gone very differently for me during my final year of high school.
His class was a favorite of pretty much every student in it. To earn his praise was the highest form of compliment, and earned you respect from every student in it: even those who didn’t care much about school cared what Mr. V thought. He pushed us. He was tough, had high standards.
But he also cared. You knew he cared. You knew he was paying attention.
He was one of the first adults in my life outside of my family to truly believe in me. I take that back, there were probably a great many that did. There was something about his method, his way of letting me know that: through quiet comments in my papers or my journal, through conversations after school, through his lessons that not only taught us about prepositions and sentence structure but about life. His affirmation, his respect, when everyone around us respected him so highly, was huge. It made a difference. It put me on a different path. He helped me finally start sowing the seeds of my own self confidence and belief.
Someone had mentioned him in passing on my Facebook page and I thought about him again. I did a quick internet search and it wasn’t long before I found his Facebook profile, full of the same passion and energy about world events and life that he gave to us in class. I thought about it for about twelve hours and then in a fit of reckless abandon, I sent a Friend Request.
I immediately regretted it, but somehow couldn’t pull it back. I didn’t see any mutual friends in his friends listing, so I worried. He probably didn’t accept former students into his circle. Was it weird to think that he would remember me? That he wondered where my life had taken me? What if he didn’t accept it?
Days passed by and my fears seemed to be coming to fruition. Nothing. No acceptance. I resigned myself to understanding that I wasn’t that different from every other student. He might have been a standout for me, but after thirty years of teaching it was foolish for me to think I’d been a standout to him, who had taught thousands of kids, all with struggles and challenges of their own. I wasn’t that different. I wasn’t special.
And then, four days later, the notice came. He’d accepted my request.
Just like that, reconnected. With someone who made such a difference in my life whom I have always wondered about in the twenty six years since. Reconnected. Knowing all of the unknowns. Knowing that he did remember me, that I made a difference, somehow to him too, all those years ago.
I’ve been enjoying my walk backwards these last few days. Back through time. It’ll pass, as it always does, but for now? Having that one more piece of my lost puzzle of my former life back in place? It’s priceless.