My friend Hank and I took your class as a freshman English course at
Your fervor for the course was refreshing. It seemed that no one bothered to tell you we were forced to take a class that would not even give credit towards our university-mandated English requirements. You encouraged us to expose ourselves through writing, a difficult feat for children fresh out of high school. It was from you that I learned to only write “what I know”. It was also from you that I forever fell in love with the “first-person-narrative”.
You anonymously read our stories aloud, saving us the embarrassment, yet giving the gift of joy in acknowledging the worthiness of our accomplishments. I wrote two stories that you read aloud, over the course of the semester – I believe I was the only student you granted this honor. The first story took place during the last song of a middle school dance – you likened it to an episode of “The Wonder Years”. Near the end of the course you read a comedy I wrote, titled, “Old Joe and Testosterone”. While both stories were taken from my life, you seemed most enthralled by the second tale of my 40-year-old Wal-Mart bakery co-worker that spent the vast majority of his workday chasing and ogling women from afar.
Whenever Hank and I reunite, our conversation inevitably turns to you. Wondering where you have gone. I had four more English instructors at Southeast, after your course; and none matched the impression you left on both my writing and my passion for life. A few years after graduation, I remember seeing you working at the local Barnes & Noble. I remember thinking, “What the hell happened?” Inevitably, I feel like your fate was one of the deciding factors in my distrust in the rewards of graduate studies.
Hank is a physicist, now and I am a painter. Ironically, I believe we would both prefer to be writers. He recently wrote this to me:
“But you know, while I don’t seem to remember much from my Physics classes or math for that matter, I can still clearly see that ugly fiber optic lamp Frye Guy asked us to describe.”
Another friend from the course, Kim C. – went on to get her teacher certification in High School English. I wonder even now, where you might be… though I believe I would rather have the memory than the reality. - DN