Friday, May 06, 2005


I spent some time on the phone this morning chatting with my friend Allison at HSA making sure that I wasn't burning any of my bridges by backing away from the TASC job and going to look for a teaching position. She's one of those young women who remind me of my mortality. Very good looking and... eager... I think that's the right word. Cheerfully willing to do what it takes to be successful. Working her way up the corporate ladder... has a side job to pay for her new pickemup truck. A boyfriend with an MBA who is some kind of famous surfer. Anyhow, she reminds me of the kind of girls I used to lust after in my bitter past.

I remember one... a girl who was in one of my classes that I taught for UCF over at the community college in Leesburg. She was late twenties going on seventeen. Two kids and looking for a marked path to the middle class. Intensely social and just a little bit on the edge of trouble. Marked by all that... wanting. Living in a crappy microscopic apartment with her two kids and pictures of her parents on the mantle. Serious faces, like agrarian signposts here from the '30s, peering out at the photographer from K-Mart's anniversary picture collections. I remember that little apartment. Rental furniture in a duplex. Bookcases made of concrete blocks, wire mesh hanging baskets in the kitchen holding Winn Dixie veggies, mismatched dishes from Goodwill, used textbooks on the kitchen table, pawnshop Royal typewriter and a fresh ream of blank paper beside last week's assignments. The little girls asleep in their mother's bed by ten o'clock. Me looking at last week's writing assignment and being handed bad poetry while she made us a cup of instant coffee. Me sitting on a broken couch reading bad poetry, no rhymes and no reason for existing except that I'd asked her to try it as a class project. Wanting to be a teacher and buy a Buick. Pay for braces for the girls some day. She wanted to explain to me that she wanted to be free of her ex- husband's "hold" on her. Get her own life. Get free.

Now days that woman is teaching elementary 5th grade at a school in Tavares. Married to a Sheriff's deputy and owns a used Buick. She calls me three of four times a year and mails me bad poetry. Still looking for Mr. Goodbar I suppose. Still "wanting", but mostly happy in her quietly desperate way.

What Allison wants is to be successful. And happy. I'm not sure that those mutually exclusive entities are congruent, but that's what she wants.