This morning I feel the initial chill of the changing season. I woke up in the middle of the night with my blanket wrapped tighter than usual and got up to turn off my fan. When I got up this morning to make coffee, the kitchen window was open and the early morning breeze gave me goosebumps for the first time in months. There's a particular scent as well. Fresh, oceanic. It reminds me of the school year beginning. Rituals of wrapping text books in brown paper bags and sitting for a long while with my colored pencils, figuring out the best way to decorate the book covers. The first week of school, heading into the school library to greet the librarian, see what new books were available.
I started teaching again last night. We took a break over the summer, though I did work with the kids for their showcase in early August and co-ran a workshop later that month. The place where I teach is a transitional shelter so I have students who will show up for months, then their family will find housing and I never see them again. I get attached to the students, build relationships and trust with them, so when they leave it always pulls at my heart a little. Last night I found out three students I've been working with for almost a year will be moving out. I'm pretty sad to lose them but happy that they'll be living in their own homes. I also have new students who are excited to write, create.
As I was leaving the shelter last night I ran into a former student on the street. He and his family moved out of the shelter month ago but he is still attached to his friends and community who live in the shelter. In his new neighborhood, he and his brother were jumped because they were walking down the street, and their skin color made them targets. That shit kills me. The former student has an insouciance about the situation that both scares and impresses me. Those kind of dramas are so far removed from my life, but the reality is that they're happening not too far from where I live. I hugged him, told him to stay safe, remember he is strong. I didn't know what else to say or do.
One of the things I love most about working with teens is watching them go through the teen things. (Not the getting jumped, that isn't something anyone should go through.) My class is optional, every student who attends is there because they want to be. There is always an initial resistance when I give out an assignment, grumbling. But they eventually get into it and grumble again when I call time. They also talk to me. I get to witness their emotional lives, the first loves, the first betrayals, the insecurities, sometimes the rage. I love all of it. It keeps me close to the flesh, that truth of emotional adolescence, how intense it is. And when I sit down to write I can carry it for my character.
The writing is intense these days. Flowing. Last night I didn't to sleep until midnight because plot points kept popping into my head, fixes for concerns I had. Oh beloved hypnopompic state. You do me good.