From time-to-time I crack open my old teen journal and try and remind myself of how I have grown. Occasionally it occurs to me that I haven't made it as far down the road as I thought, kind of like when you take a wrong turn and end up going in circles and right back in front of the same bagel shop. It happens. The important thing besides stopping off for a bite of bread, is just to keep driving, keep learning.
Recently as I skimmed through those youthful pages full of electric fire, I was reminded of my college days. Looking back, still some of the best days of my life.
There was a professor then whose name I cannot reveal for two reasons: #1, he might 'Google' himself and find this, and #2 the other students, both past and present, might read it and think me insane. Therefore, we'll call him "Mr. Hand" just for privacy purposes. The fact that "Mr. Hand" brings a comedic slant to the idea of this teacher will just be a bonus.
Mr. Hand was one of the most charismatic, knowledgeable and interesting teachers I have had. The subjects taught, although it doesn't really matter I guess, were English Composition and Literature. From the day I set foot in his class I became mesmerized... by the way he talked, the way he walked. His lectures were the highlight of my day. He had a way of explaining things that kept me interested in the subject at hand. When he told his stories in class as well, it just drew you in. I found myself watching his mouth, waiting in anticipation for him to make eye contact with me. I'd sit on the front row and wait for him to pass by in those Khakis, and I couldn't help but stare "there". Oh the things I imagined him doing to me!
('Those damn Khakis!')
Many of his lectures would be filled to the brim with tales and commentary about Sex, Drugs and Rock-n-Roll. Why wouldn't it appeal to a young generation? He made us feel that he identified with us, and had been there himself, relaying with great detail from even his own experiences. We were all brimming with youthful abandon and swimming neck deep in his magic words (at least I thought so).
Mr. H was not at all what most would consider a good looking man, he was older, balding... well truly nearly bald. The man wasn't winning any beauty contests, that's for sure. There was just something about him I could not explain, a certain Je ne sais quoi.
So, I was very reluctant to let anyone else know of my affections for him. I told VERY few people simply because I feared being the brunt of jokes in that regard. Why did I care really? I don't know, I just didn't want people to think I was nuts. I WAS nuts, however... nuts about Mr. Hand!
If I ever missed a class, I don't remember it. My grades in his class were straight A's, and I wrote my English Comp assignments with great fervor, anxiously awaiting and then feeding off his positive comments. He may well still be one of the reasons that I enjoy writing so much today, though it has always brought me a lot of joy.
As this "Crush" grew, I decided against my better judgment that I needed to send Mr. H a greeting card. Greeting cards were always something I had a hard time resisting sending to crushes and love interests, and I'm sure that the objects of my affection probably wished I didn't. I fancied myself a romantic, though, and continued sending my idiotic cards and notes. So I went out and found the perfect card for Him. Then I sat down and carefully selected my words, most of which were infused with how much I enjoyed his class, and just how much he inspired me as a teacher.
Of course I didn't make a copy, and I don't remember the exact words, but I sealed it, stamped it and placed it in campus mail.
The next day, as I sat in class glued to the day's lecture, I fixed my gaze upon the Khakis as they passed back and forth across the room, in front of my desk... he, chewing his gum, those lips spouting out his pure platinum brilliance. All at once he stopped, there directly in front of me.
With a shy schoolgirl smile, I looked up and my eyes met with his. Surely I must be flushed crimson, but I dare not look away. What on Earth was he going to say? What had I done? Whatever it was, it had me in the spotlight at that very moment, as the entire class stared directly towards me.
Just then, he laid his hand, that aged hand so full of experience, upon my desk and said with a nod and smile, "Thank you!"
Through my nervousness and embarrassment, I managed to reply softly, "You're welcome."
Who knows what the rest of the class was thinking. What was he thanking me for? What had Jackie done that deserved this class interruption? He never stated, never publicly addressed it to the class, just thanked me in that quick, semi-private little moment we'd shared as he paused in front of my desk. I'd never forget.
Even after his class, as I was in the middle of other transgressions and experiences I thought about visiting him. Once I actually did, but the time was rather brief, and of course nothing happened. I don't know if he ever realized that I had such a crush on him. In fact, I found out later on that I was not the only girl who had entertained similar thoughts about him. Funny isn't it?
Maybe he really was some sort of spellbinder. ;)
Time marched on as it always does, and eventually "college days" faded away, along with my sweet, silly little "College Girl Crush". Other teachers filtered through my educational journey as well, but nobody else quite like Mr. Hand.
In more recent years, I had read one of his books. This found me wondering about him... how he was doing. So, I looked up an e-mail on him. Although for totally different reasons now, as I no longer entertain any sort of romantic thoughts about the man, I wrote him quite a nice letter letting him know just how much his class had meant, and what a role model and mentor in writing he had been to me.
Just a few days later, I received a very grateful reply back telling me that he indeed remembered me, and how much those words meant to him. He said he'd put the letter on his wall.
Then that was that... I felt good about the letter, and was glad that the praise complimented him so.
Great teachers like Mr. H are rare, and I guess it is even rarer still for those teachers to receive such a reward to be told how their efforts made such a difference in students' lives, but they do. Teachers of the world just know that every word you say has some sort of impact, and they do not always fall on deaf ears, even though it may seem that way. You have powers beyond your dreams, powers to make a difference to those you guide and inspire... to help shape great minds. You're worth so much more than you know... Stay Gold!
Suggested Listening "Hot For Teacher" Click ;)