Saturdays are my favourite. It starts with tea in bed. And usually a biscuit (that’s British for cookie). Then I go to my regular Saturday morning meeting and Su takes the dog for a walk. I make coffee before I go up. Then I usually check on my credit card accounts and freak out a but. But not much because I’ve been to my meeting and I’m a lot more chilled out than I would be if I had checked my accounts before my meeting.
Then we go to the gym. Al always has me lifting less than I want to, especially if I’m on the way back from chemo (August to, well, now), or covid, (late April), or cataract surgery (second surgery was the 15th of June. Not supposed to lift anything heavy). But I don’t make a fuss. I just add a few more pounds to his suggestions. I don’t over do it. Really. Today was Bench Press and Squat day. I LOVE squats. I am not competition ready, not by any stretch, and anyway, the BCPA isn’t holding any meets at present. We’re still in covid precaution mode.
Then we went for lunch at Uprising Breads, which used to be a worker-owned cooperative until one of the workers bought it. I don’t know the whole story, but a lot of the workers were mad. Disappointed, out of work…It was a long time ago now, and pretty controversial, I think. Anyway, they’ve always made really good breads. And coffee. And they used to give bread and other baked goods to the best organizations I knew of — Vancouver Rape Relief and The Kettle Friendship Society. I used to work at both those places. There are lots of stories I could write about those days…
Anyway, we were walking our bikes up the sidewalk, after lunch, and a young woman locking her bike up looked up at me, and we recognized each other. But we didn’t know where we knew each other from, exactly, and we both look a little different — I look a lot different, because I no longer wear glasses (and believe me, that’s a big change — they were thick, my glasses), and I’m 20 or so pounds lighter than when I knew her, too. We exchanged names, and when she told me hers, I remembered her — she is unforgetable. And I could see a picture of the context, but not that clear.
“You look good,” she said, “you look healthy. I was just thinking of you last week, the things you said”
I couldn’t put my finger on it yet, I wondered if it was at those meetings? Must be, I don’t go anywhere else. Not work, she wasn’t from work…
“I appreciate the things you tried to tell us, and what you tried to let us talk about….” I know those weren’t her exact words. Anyway, I thanked her, and said it was nice to see her, and we parted. I’m such a dolt. I didn’t ask her anything about herself — I was so wrapped up in trying to figure out where I new her from, and I was embarrassed — I used to have a great memory, and especially of people and names.
If you are she, and reading this, please send a message, I’d love to know what you’re up to now, and how you are.
As we walked away, I realized — my last semester at UBC. The time I tried to make room in my classes for students to talk critically about sex and gender, and the school board policies about “sexual orientation and gender identity” (SOGI). It had come up in every semester, nearly, but that one was particularly troubling. Many of my students said they had never heard a critique of gender, or gender-identity from any of their other classes. Of course, because I am none too nuanced, my opinion was pretty clear. I think the class in which was the young woman we met today had been one of the more polarized ones.
When she said that, about how she appreciated what she learned, I felt grateful. I still feel grateful. I loved teaching. I think I had potential to be pretty good at it. I loved the divergence of experience, and opinions, and the challenge of pulling people together to collaborate, even when they disagreed. But it all scared me, too. I was always nervous about teaching. And I made a million mistakes, took a lot of risks. Learned a lot. I would do it different. But I would still be opinionated. Nuance has never been my strong suit. Then I’d be full of self-doubt. And I was terrible at marking. Terrible.
I am so very grateful that i had that opportunity, and some people remember my classes. I loved meeting you again, my former student–and teacher. Thanks for reminding me.