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Letter No. 1

 

Nothing will ever prepare you for the moment you dread. The calm before the storm is so aptly named because everyone’s quiet sobbing can hardly be heard above the screaming fear. You know me well enough to know that this is hard for me. Saying goodbye. To look, at that final moment, at the faces of the people who you may never see again, who you spent a year laughing with, crying over, worrying about, hating, loving, ridiculing. To know that, even though your sorrow is greater than anyone could possibly know, you’re almost required to enjoy it. To know that the faces I see as I turn and look, one last time, are not faces of sadness, no, but faces of barely concealed joy. To know that life will go on, that in two years it’ll be a struggle to remember I was there, in four to remember me, in eight to remember it. I understand, also, how pessimistic I’ve become. In writing these I was, as I’d like to be, happy and melancholy. I felt as if yours was the one in which I might express my sorrow. Friends aren’t replaceable. They aren’t things you forget about and take out every few years to play with just ‘cause. Friends impart a portion of their soul upon you, and you them. I’d like to say, at the end of the day, I have a friend. It’s innate human nature to want a friend, to want someone to share stories with you. Well, I wouldn’t really know.

I’ve always wondered if other people cry. I cry. I cry all the time. Maybe that’s just my medicine though.

Sorry about the stream-of-consciousness thing, I hope you’ll understand. Anything I want to say to you I already have. This is a formality, a finale, an end to a chapter. Now I begin anew, hopefully with one or two of the same characters.

Do you know what it means when I say ‘to teach?’ Probably not, because it’s a very specific, connotative definition. When I say that the best teachers are students, I mean it. All the education in the world couldn’t have taught me what teaching 45 minutes of freshmen did. When they looked up at me, their eyes were cold with hate. They knew I saw. They didn’t know it hurt. That day I learned the most important lesson I think I’ll ever learn, they’re wrong. It doesn’t matter how much you know or who you know or where you learned or where you’ve been. What matters is that single moment when I crack a smile instead of a whip and I turn from authority to equal. To accomplish both must be one of the hardest things, because I’ve yet to do it. Anyway, a student will tell you everything they know, even if you don’t care. A teacher will tell you half of what they know and they don’t care you don’t care. This year has been a journey of education wrapped up in the one class I feel I can talk about. I learned about basketball and vodka with Red Bull and One Direction and soccer and technology and cars and foursquare and Gamecube. I didn’t learn much Latin, but I did learn so much more.

In Central and South America, there are fish called geophagi. They don’t often eat other fish or plants or really anything. They sift through the gravel under them, eating the scraps from other creatures’ meals. No there’s a point I swear. When aquarists keep a geophagus, they get to see this feeding behavior. They also get to learn that these beautiful fish aren’t scavengers. They’re incredibly intelligent; they respond to different people in different ways; they can tell time; they understand. In life, I feel that each person should strive to be, as a geophagus, brilliant and beautiful without having to declare it to everyone, choosing only to display it to those whom you truly know.

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