Dear 18 year old self,
I see you there, waiting for a bus in cold that made your eyeballs ache to take you from Amherst, Massachusetts to Northampton to take that African American History class that was the dessert on the history major that you were self indulgently pursuing. On the bus you would have listened to this song http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fCONhXqEyU0 and you would have meant it every time you raged with the chorus. Because the world was full of compromises you weren’t willing to make. You would never have guessed that the grown you would have traded radical politics to teach five and six year olds about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in a way both appropriate to the public school system and the innocence of those in the room. In fact, you would have rather licked the Birkenstocks of the wealthy students of Hampshire College with whom you shared a campus with but not a common vision, than teach for the state. Back then you ate Ben and Jerry’s Chocolate Fudge Brownie by the pint to protect yourself from the bitter cold and as rebellion against the whole wheat and honey cookies on which you were raised. You stayed up all night reading Sandra Cisneros who wrote things I had never read in print before, like “In English my name means hope. In Spanish it means too many letters. It means sadness, it means waiting. It is like the number nine. A muddy color. It is the Mexican records my father plays on Sunday mornings when he is shaving, songs like sobbing.” And you listened to your DJ roommate mixing the same five songs over and over again. It was much later that you had children and you revised your contract with the universe. Suddenly you craved stability like you had craved your aunt’s matzo ball soup during your pregnancy. You wanted to water the flowers not only in your garden but in all the gardens you could reach. You got certified to teach. You signed a contract with a large public school system. The you that you had become called her mother for good whole wheat recipes.