Friday, September 25, 2009

Pandora’s Box

Shelves divide my garage. Heath parks on one side. I park on the other. On the shelves sit several plastic bins as well as a few cardboard boxes.

What is in all these boxes? Stuff. Memories. Things. The items one inevitably accumulates throughout life. My boxes are filled with paper and words. Words are my passion in life. Words touch my soul. I save all inspiring, funny, and soul touching words.

Bug brought home the class Tooth Bag. His assignment was to fill out the journal/letter to the Tooth Fairy. It was a fill in the blank type of assignment that opened the door to my memory. Visions filled my mind of Hubby and myself laughing so hard tears streamed down our faces. I had given my 6th graders a fill in the blank letter to the incoming 6th graders. The responses were better than I could have ever imagined they would be. One in particular was the best. One of my students misspelled a word. The misspelling turned into another word that changed the meaning of what he wrote in a very unfortunate and comical way.

My quest was to find that paper. I found it. I laughed again. I don’t think it is appropriate to share it online. In my efforts to find the paper I found so much more.

It was as if I opened a Pandora’s Box of my life. Unlike the mythological Pandora’s Box, this was not all evil or bad. Just a swirl of memories bursting from the dusty folders of old papers and words.

One folder boosted my self-esteem as only former students can. It was full of drawings and notes from my 4th graders expressing their undying love for me. “Mrs. Westover is the best teacher ever. Mrs. Westover teaches really well.” “She taught us a math trick.” “I will miss her when she is gone.” “I almost cried when I heard she had to leave. I will miss her.” “I was afraid to come to 4th grade but Mrs. Westover is my teacher and she is really nice so now I like 4th grade.” etc. etc. How can one feel anything less than fantastic after reading such blind, unconditional love!

Letters of recommendation, writing assignments, notes written during class – Mary painted her fingernails during Zaps today as her form of rebellion! High school and college essays, poems that spoke to me, a letter from a former college roommate that I lost touch with and need to look up. All of these words and memories reminded me of who I used to be and who I wanted to become.
The truth is, I think some of the thoughts and experiences I have had lately are guiding me to what I need to do next in my life.
I love Robert Fulghum. In the middle of reading his book What on Earth Have I Done, I imagined for a brief moment that I met my idol. We talked. One thing led to another and he became my mentor. I had to watch Finding Forrester after my daydream. If only it were true!

I watched Finding Forrester while Hubby listened online to Florida State wipe the field with BYU, their pride, and dignity. Our house got a little hectic towards the end of my movie. Kids arguing, the contents of their craft box all over the house like the aftermath of a bad stomach flu, Hubby screaming at the computer. I was interrupted a lot but still got teary at the end of the movie.

Wouldn’t you know that a few days later I was listening to and Somewhere Over the Rainbow by Israel “IZ” Kamakawiwo’ole came on. For those of you who don’t know, that is the ending song on Finding Forrester. I learned that IZ was born in Hawaii. He was a legend in Hawaii. He died at the age of 38 from weight related respiratory illness. The Hawaiian flag flew at half mast on the day of his funeral. Over 10,000 people attended his funeral. The song makes me cry more now that I know about the musician behind it.

I find it interesting that all these experiences were happening in a matter of days. The last several chapters of Robert Fulghum’s book that led me to my plan to improve my writing and gain more formal training (I haven’t taken an English class since high school); the movie; the song I keep hearing; reading that Ray Bradbury couldn’t write for a while after his wife passed away because she was his muse, yet he pushed past the wall and kept going and is still amazing; my Pandora’s Box, etc. It’s as if the Lord is saying to me, “I gave you this talent. What are you going to do with it?”

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