Next Time I’ll Know You
I walked up to the table with all of the jars of honey on it, and figured I would introduce myself to the new guys on the block. We were up at the farmers market, on Bell springs Road, last September, and this was the first time I had seen this booth. Extending my hand, I shook hands with the first three guys, before tuning to the fourth. He had his head tilted slightly to one side, but his neatly trimmed beard was not helping much, until he spoke. “I know you,” was all he said.
Of course, as soon as he spoke, I recognized Eric’s voice, and withdrew my hand, and gave him a bear hug instead. I was happy to see him, and make the connection. He told me he had spent a couple of years at San Jose State University, and that delighted me, it being my Alma Mater. And the honey was superior.
I saw Matt and Erin too at this farmers market, and having spent the lion’s share of my summer, working on a construction crew building their home, our encounter was a warm one. I had told them before we started the project, that it would proceed as smoothly as they could possibly imagine, and such was the case. I derived a tremendous amount of satisfaction out of building a home for someone who had once been a student of mine.
Of course I see the mountain kids all the time. I see Oni and Hannah, along with an occasional Hart sighting. I ran across Sky one time last summer, and Casey pointed out O.T. one Wednesday night, when the farmers market crowd had gone home, but the supporting cast of thousands had remained behind to enjoy a balmy September night.
I see Silent Steve at the building supply place, and I see April in Geiger’s. I promised I would know her the next time I saw her, after having to be reintroduced. Sigh.
Jeremy always says Hey, when I’m in shopping, and I spoke with Shane when I was out at the tire and auto center a couple of weeks ago.
I was delighted to be introduced to Roger Junior, after running into his dad at Tibi’s one afternoon, while Lito and I were picking up some take-away. I never saw a more pronounced change between a student in the sixth grade, and the same student as a seventh grader. What a transformation.
Sixth grade had not been easy for Roger, and he tended to hang on the fringes. When he returned in the seventh grade, the shy guy had disappeared, and “The Ambassador” had replaced him. Mr. Poulton and I used to watch with amazement as Roger would work a classroom, on his way to the pencil sharpener, right at the door to the quad.
He did not leave anyone out, on his way to and from the social center of every classroom, there not being drinking fountains inside. He remembered all too well the teasing he got as an introverted sixth grader, so he included those shy guys in his travels. He had found basketball, and it did wonders for his growth as a person. Carbz was the one who always used to argue so vehemently, that the technology was not invented that could measure the difference sports made in the lives of certain kids, not all kids, just certain ones. The dilemma was that no one could tell on the outside who these kids were, so we needed to make sure that all kids had access to the world of athletics.
I was quite startled to walk into Howard Hospital a few years ago, and there was Manette, ready to draw my blood. If ever there was someone, with whom I felt comfortable, it was Manette. Blood always used to make me queasy, so I could tell her that. She regaled me with this anecdote, and that quip, until I realized we were done. What I remember most was the trip Mr. Poulton and I took down to San Francisco, after school one day, with school again the next, to take schoolwork to Manette, while she was in the seventh grade. She had gotten sick, and was in Children’s Hospital in San Francisco.
Though she was probably bummed to get the schoolwork, she could also appreciate that we had made the trip. After all, we couldn’t very well let one of our school fish wriggle off the homework hook that easily. Otherwise all of the seventh graders would be wanting to get sick and stuck in a hospital in San Francisco.