Thursday, September 16, 2010

Signora & The Backpack

In high school I had a teacher, we'll call her Signora.  I took her class for years and I can't tell you I retained anything, subject related. To keep myself in the class I had to write the words I had to know over and over again to remember them. We're talking Bart Simpson style.

It wasn't perfect, but it worked out. I took the Italian from 8th grade through 12th even though I could have stopped after 10th, I stayed. I elected to stay because despite never learning an ounce of Italian (though I can understand way more than I can speak or admit to understanding) - I learned more about myself in that one class, with that one teacher, than I learned anywhere else. 

You know those Hallmark movies, where the teacher goes into the inner city and saves a young gangster from a life of crime and incarceration? That was what it was like from me - except we were in the suburbs of Long Island, I was actually a pretty good kid and didn't need saving. 

I was a good kid, for the most part. I made decent decisions for most of high school, but I have always been an older soul.  I had a great group of friends I hung out with and some really good friends, at the time.  That said, when there were dances or events I would often be found on the sidelines chatting with the teachers - chatting with Signora.   I remember once at a school event we were in our usual chat spot and we were talking about my douche of a boyfriend at the time.  She looked at me square in the face, into my eyes, the kind of stare where you look into some one's soul and in a direct and almost unnerving way laid it out for me. I'm better than that, I'm better than this relationship.  I'm a strong person becoming a woman and I didn't 'need' things like I thought I did. Eventually I'd get that - if not that day but it hit a nerve somewhere in there. Did I go through life looking for the 'right' situation, like the way Signora told me about? Absolutely not. Did I at some point in the beginning of my relationship with the ball & chain remember that conversation and agree in silence that things CAN be easy?
Absolutely.

The thing that stands out the most, that I still carry with me is a backpack she once talked about.  This, of course, has nothing to do with the Italian. I wrote a speech my senior year of college to be read at commencement.  I was chosen as one of the finalist to read and even bought my first suit for the audition.  I didn't make it, but the experience, like all things through out my life still exist in my backpack. 

(This is the part of the experience I break out my box of photos from high school & college to reference the speech - because I'm a hoarder with out being buried by my hording efforts.  It's also around this time that I realize, in re-reading my speech that it wasn't Signora that gave me the backpack theory but some unnamed professor in college.  To keep the integrity of the post, I'll tell you truth. It wasn't Signora but I'll get back to why I'm keeping it in the story in a moment.)

What's the backpack theory? 

Through out your life you carry with you a backpack,  middle school style.  It holds your memories. It influences who you are.  What you carry in your backpack drives how you interpret things.  It holds your experiences.  As time goes by your backpack can become overstuffed - you subconsciously clean house. New memories become more vivid and on top, while old ones stay in the bottom. 

It's nothing new, but it's stuck to me, as Signora has.  A woman who took her job beyond the Italian language.  For years I have recalled this story in my head wanting to write a post about how she made an impressionable difference in my life. I admire that kind of passing impression.

I keep the backpack theory in because regardless of who shared it with me, she's prominent on my backpack like a broken in patch she comes with me.  As I meet people and continue to journey through life she remains a major influential person I have come across. I wonder if she realizes the time she took to get to know me has helped to shape the woman I am today. 

Once again - big ups to the SITS girls and to the sponsors of the Back to Blogging event, Standards of Excellence, Westar Kitchen & Bath, and Florida Builder Appliances Put that in your backpack.

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