Today a colleague, Mandy, asked me about writing. She walked into my room at the end of the day, when things were calm, and asked the question, “How often do you write?”
The truth is, until she asked me that today, I really hadn’t given any thought to how much I write. If I thought about it at all before today, it had been to think, “God, do I have enough time between [this mandatory event] and [this other mandatory event] to jot this down?” I had never realized, or thought to realize, that I had anything resembling a routine of writing at all.
So when I answered her, “Everyday,” I said it with a hint of awe in my voice, even shock. I do write everyday. I couldn’t imagine not writing. We talked about blogging, how I’d gotten into it to begin with, and she asked me about the kinds of things I wrote about when I was writing for the Independent.
This got me thinking about how I began by writing more essay-like columns instead of diary-entry columns like I do now; and with the few seconds of reflection I allowed myself in that moment, I became sad for the kind of writing I used to do for NHI.
I wanted to show Mandy a few of the “Brinn” essays/posts, so I began searching. But the internet was slow and we both had somewhere to be, so I told her I’d e-mail them to her when I got home. So tonight, I have been sitting on my couch for an hour and a half reading my own writing that’s still on NHI from a year ago. And oh wow, do I miss those kids.
I mostly miss Brinn. The struggles she went through! The struggles I went through because of her struggles! I wouldn’t want to go through those again, but when I read all of those posts together, man, did I feel that anxiety and sadness come washing over me again…and I missed it! I wonder where Brinn is? I wonder how she is doing her senior year? I wonder if she and her boyfriend are still together? I miss her so much, that wide grin, those cautious eyes. I miss writing about her.
I remember sitting in my classroom and writing about all the ups and downs of urban public school life, about the triumphs and humor in a 9th grade Literature classroom. I miss having so much stuff to write about!
Mostly my writing was so plentiful because my students’ struggles were so plentiful, which I don’t wish for anyone. But here, if my kids struggle, they don’t wear their struggles on their sleeves for anyone to see and react to like they did in New Haven. Here things feel good. I couldn’t IMAGINE things happening at this school like they happened in New Haven. Guns? Fights? Talking back to teachers? Swearing to teachers? Pregnancies? All of those things at school? Here? No way. It just wouldn’t happen here.
And as truly thankful as I am for that, and as thankful as I am for the students here to be leading safe and happy lives, there is a part of me that is confused by the peace, by so little conflict. So often last year I wrote about struggle because it was all around me. Great for writing, great for finding things to “prove” in writing about my students: See? Look what my kids can do! Even when they’re dealing with all of these struggles….
And here? It’s like Easy Street. I am almost begging for something to go wrong or astray. The counselor part of me, the part that is accustomed to writing so often about kids whose lives are hard, who get kicked out of their houses in the days following the deaths of their parents, the kids whose family members are drug addicts, the kids who are in such conflict with their own identities that they cannot function normally in school…this part of me is at a loss for words.
I am just in a very different place now. I miss my New Haven kids a little bit more tonight than I thought I would.
If you would like to read the Brinn series as I read them to myself tonight, click on the link below. It will bring you to another page with a file to download. That file contains a Word document with the series in order.
Click Here to Download Links to the Brinn Columns