Fourth Grade

My fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Albright, was sorta a hot mess. At least that is what I thought of her in fourth grade. She seemed a little scatterbrained, when in reality I think she was one of those people whose brains worked faster and harder than she could communicate her thoughts. Plus, she was a fourth grade teacher at a Title One school in the middle of Leavenworth, Kansas, she had other troubles. Jackson’s fourth grade teachers were absolute saints and you won’t change my mind. And he had several of them.

We were still in Charlotte, still at Mallard Creek STEM when fourth grade started, and he got Mrs. Duggins, the teacher I had met at the end of the school year, heard amazing things about, and decided I wanted Jackson to have. I tried to figure out how I could to that, but you have to remember I was new at this school, not well known, and my pull wasn’t that great. But I did know people… Anywho, you know the deal, he got the teacher I wanted him to get, she had some smart kids, and he even tested right into the “Gifted” program during the first week of school, which means he also had a new teacher, Mrs. Campbell. And she was THE BEST!

At this point at Mallard Creek STEM we already knew most of the other teachers, and had our favorites, like the STEM teacher Mrs. Chambers, who introduced Jackson to Lego Robots and his first foray into the STEM Club. Matter fact, in Mrs. Duggins class they had their very own 3D printer! Right there in the classroom! This was a very tech-savvy group of teachers, and Jackson fell right into line with them.

The only problem was that we knew by mid-november we would not be finishing fourth grade there. We had already been told we would be moving to the Atlanta Metro, and I had already started freaking out. Two moved in less than two years! AHHHHH! But Jackson took it all in stride. We often reminded him that had we not left St. James, he wouldn’t have all these awesome new friends, nor would he have been in a school play, or be able to 3D print in his classroom! He recognized his luck and began the process of leaving again.

Before we left though, we did some cool field trip, made some kick-ass robots, and secured some lifelong friends, as one does.

In December of fourth grade, Mrs. Duggins had her baby, and went out for maternity leave. This threw a small wrench in the plan, but I was already very involved with the classroom, I was a room-parent again, and Jackson had a steady stream of work with Mrs. Campbell keeping him busy. Plus their long-term sub, Mrs. Kinney, was sweet and smart and funny, so it all worked out. Jackson became her “tech guy” always getting her connected to what she needed to connect to and generally fixing glitches around the classroom.

Truth be told, Jackson did most of the year there. We didn’t move to Georgia until April 1, 2019 which was the first day of spring break down here, so he only did about seven weeks of school in his new Georgia school, but it was just long enough to make some friends and make a name for himself as a funny, smart, trustworthy guy, which made his transition into fifth grade much easier. In fact, we had only been there for six weeks when I was asked to help out in the classroom, which also made my transition into a room parent easy for fifth grade as well. The more you know… stars and what not.

Mrs. Butler was his fourth grade teacher at Midvale, and she was young and sweet and totally reminded me of Miss Honey from Matilda. As soon as we saw her we looked at each other and Jackson mouthed, “Miss Honey.” I was all, “I know right?!” She turned out to be just as sweet, albeit a little overwhelmed, and she recognized Jackson’s potential pretty early on, which is usually the mark of a great teacher. Though we didn’t get to know her much, we are appreciative of the time she gave to Jackson, and the trust she instilled in us from the beginning.

There you have it, fourth grade. Short, but long. Long, but short. Five important teachers, two schools, and two states. It was much easier than fifth grade, and the whole mess we found ourselves in over the last few months. Though to be fair, it wasn’t so bad. Sad that we missed so much, or feel like we did, but we are healthy, we are safe, and so are all of our friends, so we count ourselves lucky. We hope you are safe too.

M.

New school!
New deal: We were al close we could walk/ride bikes to school!

Free Tote

This morning I’m obsessed with finding a bag. Not just any bag, a brown khaki tote. It was a free tote. The kind you get when you order a magazine subscription because you think your life has finally reached the point that you can lazily read a magazine on your front porch, while you sip your Saturday coffee, rocking back and forth to the lull of the birds in the magnolias. You think you’ve reached a point in your life that you’ll promptly read each issue, delivered every week, by a friendly mail carrier whose suspicion of your growing magazine consumption comes in pitiful glances, as he taps on your glass door and waves the next issue into your box. It’s a pity you’ve steadily learned to tolerate.

I am looking for a tote that came free with a magazine subscription. The kind of subscription you order because you think your life has come to a point that you will be able to read each issue promptly. That the issues won’t start to stack, in tedious, yellowing piles, at the corner of your bedside table. You think you’ve finally reached a point in your life that you will not, at three a.m., grope for the cup of water on your bedside table, and knock the tedious stack of yellowing, unread issues off your bedside table. You think you are so much in control of your life, that you won’t curse at the dropped issues, or at the missing cup of water, or at the person groping in the dark. You think you are so in control of your life, that you won’t feverishly toss and turn for the rest of the night, wondering why the hell you kept a tedious stack of unread, yellowing issues of a magazine on your bedside table. Was it all for the free tote?

This morning I am looking for a free tote that came with a magazine subscription. But it’s not actually the tote that I need. It’s the notebook inside the tote. I had it at the hotel we lived in for a few days at the end of last month. We lived at a hotel for a few days at the end of last month, because we were moving. We were moving from a city that I love dearly, to one the I dread with a maturing certainty more and more each day. We were moving and the boxes had been stacked around our small house. And the truck had been ordered. And the bedside table had been turned upside down. And the magazines stacks had been recycled. And the water cups had been packed. And like you do, when all of your belongings are packed away in boxes and all your magazines recycled, we moved into a hotel for a few days.

It’s not even the notebook inside the free tote that I need. It’s the hastily hand-written quote inside of the notebook that I’m after. It’s my own writing. Half cursive, half capitals. Halfway through the notebook. It’s written past pages of to-do lists, bad middle-of-the-night-ideas, and important phone numbers I forgot to remember. It’s the sort of notebook people like us keep. The sort of people who think we’re so in control of our lives that we order magazine subscriptions, and keep notebooks filled with dots rather than lines. Notebooks filled with middle-of-the-night ideas and phone numbers and to-do lists. Notebooks with doodles and desires. Notebooks with words we can’t quite grasp and thoughts we have to think on for a little while longer. Notebooks with dots rather than lines.

There, inside the notebook, is a quote I jotted down, in somewhat of a fever, at a writing thing I went to a few weeks back. I don’t remember the quote in its entirety. I don’t remember what the teacher said the quote was about, or who the quote was from, or if the quote is even the quote I’m loosely remembering right now. But I do remember the feeling of urgency to get the quote into my dotted notebook. I remember the desire to lock the quote up inside. The weight of that moment pressing down on me. Wanting, needing, to know more about it. I remember thinking this quote could give me some direction. This quote had the power to save me in some way. That one day I would need a quote to save me. That one day soon, I would need saving.

The Movers are Here

The movers are here. The process has begun. There are boxes stacked against walls. Boxes stacked against furniture. Boxes stacked on top of other boxes. There are tubs, and armoires, and stools, standing guard, shielding the dirty floors. Those dirty oak floors are refinished. A relic left in a house that was all but scrapped. In a house still standing, 65 years later. Our house. 1920 Umstead Street. Our little, rental house that we have come to love. Our house. Not demolished, or stripped of its originality. 1920 Umstead Street, a house that has served, and will continue to serve, with a haunting resilience, in a neighborhood not unlike your own. But today, today the oak floors are dusty. They are dusty, and they are muddy, and they are neglected. Between the stacked boxes, one can occasionally catch a glimpse of lost buttons, or old receipts, or a paper clip, swept under a cabinet or a desks or a lazy-Sunday recliner. Today, dog hair battles loose rubber bands and old dryer sheets on the dusty oak floor. A lone Diet Coke cap has been kicked behind a stack of cardboard. The cardboard is still bound in plastic banding, waiting to be unleashed with one flick of a razor.

The movers are here, and time hasn’t stopped. People are still mowing their lawns. And pounding away at their keyboards. And walking their dogs. Sit! Stay. Heal. The movers are here and I’m hiding, alone one last time, remembering the day we moved in. Remembering the possibility that lay before us. Remembering the boxes, stacked, against furniture and on top of each other. I’m remembering the fresh paint on the walls and the fresh polish on the oak floors. I’m remembering the dog, the previous dog, that dog, that love-of-my-life, one-of-a-kind dog, Bentley, splayed out on the polished oak floors, basking in the warm glow of the cold December sun. I can see her, just over there. Over the empty water bottle, and the one left shoe, and that coat, that may or may not come along. I can see her, laying there, basking in the warm, cold sun. And she is happy.

The movers are here and they aren’t leaving until they have finished. They aren’t stopping until our little house, our cozy, charming, little rental house, is packed in a truck. They aren’t leaving until every white, clapboard cupboard has been emptied. Until there is no left shoe. Until there are no loose rubber bands, or paper clips, or half-empty jugs of olive oil left on display.

The movers are here, and they aren’t leaving until my life is packed neatly in a box, protected by papers, sorted by size. Put in its proper place. And locked away for safe keeping.

The movers are here and they are not leaving.

M.

Two More Weeks

Several months ago Jerimiah was told by his company that his role was changing and he would likely not be in the Charlotte area anymore. In reality, it was much more harsh, and he was forced to make his own destiny, in a sense, by filtering out areas in the US that we did not want to go. They wanted him, for example, to go a few places we have visited, but did not think would fit us. Think: Jefferson City, MO; Louisville, KY; Richmond, VA; The Middle of Nowhere, Mass; etc, etc. In short the list was scary. Then Atlanta reached out to him. Now mind you, the last time we visited Atlanta, GA, as we hit I-85 to head home, we looked at each other and said, out loud for the whole damn universe to hear, We are never going back to Atlanta. So yeah, we fucked ourselves royally. In two weeks we are moving to Atlanta, Georgia.

Now at first, at first, I was skeptical at best. I mean the reasons we didn’t like Atlanta are the reasons most people don’t like Atlanta. It’s crowded, it’s a bit run-down, it’s an urban city, sure, but it is smack-dab in the middle of one of those southern states. You know what I mean, the conservative ones. They just passed a Heartbeat Bill, for Baby Jebus’ sake. It is a place we were desperately trying to stay away from. And did I mention the traffic? The aggressive drivers? The homeless who have a penchant for lighting overpasses on fire? Then there are the ‘burbs. Buckhead comes to mind, because, well, that’s one nice place, that we could absolutely not afford to live in. And that is by design. There is intense, intense socio-economic segregation in and around the ATL. Intense.

But then friends came to our rescue. People who know people who know people who live in and around Atlanta. Decatur. Tucker. Smyrna. Marietta. Dunwoody. We started to feel better, though we suspect our friends were so eager to help because well, it wasn’t THEM moving to Atlanta. A sense of relief comes with learning you won’t, in fact, be moving to Atlanta, just visiting.

We were able to find a house, a cute, little ditty in one of those adorable ‘burbs (even though we know we are not ‘burb people, it feels like the best place to go before we get to know the city a bit better). We found the house. The company is moving us. We have all the paperwork signed. The forms faxed to the new school. The utilities on. The landscaper on deck. We found the nearest pool. We have signed up for events in the community. In a phrase, we are ready. Even though it doesn’t matter much if we are ready or not, it is coming.

As of April 1, 2019, we will be Georgia residents. No longer North Carolina residents. Not Missouri residents. Not Kansas residents. But Georgia residents. A residency that we didn’t necessary want, but one that we are getting, and well, we will make the best of it, because that is what we do. It is what we have always done. You can’t go forth in prosperity and happiness any other way. So, if you are so inclined, please wish us luck, and health, and happiness in this new adventure! And we will do the same for you!

M.