Jenny writes me a note about driving the long way home from work and watching a North Carolina sunset. I’ve had several students in my life who wrote better prose than I did. Jenny was one. Her words are clean and sharp and wonderful to read.
Somehow, her watching the sunset in North Carolina and my watching the sunrise here at my house with the coffee brewing works as a bond for me. She writes about how the sun seems to linger so much longer in Texas. Whether it does or not, it lingers this morning.
I have two former students who now live in North Carolina, both better writers. So many of them were. One now lives in Spain, another in Florida, another north of Dallas… In my mind they all know each other. But of course they don’t, separated by time and even different schools. I sometimes dream about a reunion of all my old students and then I realize not only do they not know each other, I don’t know who most of them are. I tend to remember their essays better—some of them.
One about a student and her friend who would go to a pool hall when they were freshmen, to a place where when they walked in, the men would pause for a moment and notice them. Here we were beautiful, my student wrote. Another wrote about an official car pulling up to her house, men in uniform walking up to her front door to give her the dreaded news that her husband had been killed in Iraq, only she discovered it wasn’t her husband but the man who lived in the house before them—their best friend. Another about a housekeeper in the country illegally. They had come to America to escape the drug wars in their home, to give their children a safe place to live. Another about the death of Septimus in Mrs. Dalloway—lost in the maze of the war, speaking to dead comrades. And another about a husband and wife arguing in “Say Yes” over mix marriage when the wife discovers she is married to a stranger.
I sip my coffee and discover the sun is past the tree line. It’s been seven years since I taught, and I no longer miss my job. I certainly don’t miss the mob that has taken over much of higher education, lining their pockets while undermining any notion of higher education. But I do miss students, even the ones I don’t remember.
Today I will walk the road to the river and breath in the sliver of wild that still remains in my portion of the world. I will sit at my computer and try to come up with the right combination of words that will somehow—what. I will ride my bike. This morning I cooked grits and eggs for breakfast. I washed, am washing, a load of clothes. I read a note from Jenny. I will undoubtedly talk to God sometime during the day—not so much prayer as a running monologue. I will tell my wife how lucky I am to have her in my life, to have my children, to be well fed and relatively happy. I will worry over the world, how unnecessary we are made to fear and hate each other. I will cry a little.
I wish we could meet, drink a cup of coffee, and talk the world into place, he writes.