I would not have “known them anywhere.” Forty years is a long time, and we, all four of us, are now blurred and softened versions of the ones who’d spent nearly every day together long ago. My first thought when they walked in was that they were smaller than I’d remembered, maybe because I am bigger now, but probably because they’d loomed so large in both my life and my memory.
Their voices, though? THOSE I’d have recognized in an instant. Theirs were (still are) voices that demand attention — and they certainly received a lot of mine. I’d sought their approval, feared their disappointment, grown up more than a little listening to them speak.
The email had arrived out of nowhere. “Dear Lisa,” it said. “I was your sixth grade teacher at Lakeside School. For many years, your Fourth Grade teacher Mrs. Mari Emiddio-Pinter and I have read your… articles. Mari and I would often say, we should get in touch with Lisa and treat her out to lunch. Well, the offer stands. If you… would like to see your elementary school teachers, we would love to see you. Sincerely, Jo Iwaskow Miller.”
If you are lucky you have a teacher or two over your years of learning who you know changed your life. If you are really lucky, they include a Mrs. Pinter and a Mrs. Iwaskow, who grab your hand at a vulnerable moment and boost you across the divide toward becoming who you should be.
Mrs. Iwaskow’s nudge was personal: I thought I’d hidden the fact that the cool girls were torturing me, but then she sat me down and told me that real friends don’t treat you that way. Then she moved my desk next to the girl who would be my bestie through high school and beyond. READ MORE