Saturday, January 23, 2016

Falling in Love (Ten Years Ago)

Ten years ago this week, I started falling in love. I was seventeen years old, starting my second semester of my junior year at Southwest High School. My first class of that second semester was English 11 and that's where everything began. The spring semester of 2006 is one of the major pivotal times in my life thus far. 

(As I am now 27 and about to start my second semester of my first year teaching at Southwest High School, in the same classroom where I had English 11 and everything began, I can't help but look back and reflect. It's actually really cool. I'm so glad I've been given this opportunity.)

So I was seventeen. Still had braces, but was getting them off that week (SO excited). Had a nice Jeep. Made good grades. Was in a ton of clubs. Extracurricular activities included dance class and cotillion and eating McDonalds double cheeseburgers every day after school. I wasn't expecting the growth and change that 2006 would bring (and I hope I can look back on 2016 and say the exact same). I wasn't expecting to fall in love...

I fell in love with country music. It was on this week ten years ago that I fell for Rascal Flatts after resisting country music for years. I had been forced to listen to Alan Jackson and George Strait and bluegrass in the car with my dad since I could remember and watch the Grand Ole Opry on Saturday nights growing up. I always thought the Rascal Flatts were cheesy... until I was watching the American Idol auditions on this week in 2006 and one of the contenders was singing "Bless the Broken Road" and the show had a flashback to Carrie Underwood singing the same song for her American Idol audition. I fell in love with "Bless the Broken Road," and a few weeks later with Rascal Flatts. ...and then, like a domino effect, with all of country music.

I fell in love with English class. I had always enjoyed English, but everything about this class just made me see things differently. Mrs. Nix made English come to life in a way that I had never experienced. She talked to us as if we were all adults and treated us in a way that made us feel respected, and shared her funny life stories with us. Her passion for the literature was something I'd never seen (and try to emulate every single day). 
I fell in love with American literature and The Color Purple and The Crucible and The Catcher in the Rye and analyzing literature and inferring meanings in texts and trying to imagine what the writer was thinking when he wrote this or that. 

I fell in love with the idea of college. It was becoming closer and there were so many options. I hadn't thought much about college before (the plan was to become a movie star, and they don't need college!!!), but Mrs. Nix was so enthusiastic about her experience at NCState - it was inspiring!  She made us to a college project that simulated applying for college and scholarships so that when it came time to actually do those things in a few months, it would be really familiar and not half as overwhelming. Like a practice run. I became excited about college (might as well be - my parents were going to make me go anyway, of course)!!

And yes, I did fall "in love" with a boy in that class. As in love as a seventeen-year-old with the whole world ahead of her can be. We were great friends, but it pretty much stayed that way, and I was plagued with feelings for the next couple of years, and this "love" earned me a great grade on a college paper in my first writing class at HPU (because Mrs. Nix had inspired me to major in English, of course!) as I poured my heart out in an open letter to the guy, and my professor was both moved and impressed. 
Which caused me to fall deeper in love with writing.

Ten years later, I can only HOPE that I can inspire at least one kid in the way that I was inspired in the spring of 2006. In that same magical classroom. THIS IS WHY IT MEANS SO MUCH TO ME! This post explains it all!! It's no coincidence that I landed back in the same spot ten years later; this is all the Lord.

I am teaching creative writing this semester, which provides so much flexibility and opportunity. I hope my passion for writing changes someone's life for the better. I hope someone is inspired to take a college writing class. I hope someone is inspired to pour their heart out on paper and realize how therapeutic it is and how even if the writing doesn't change the heart of another person, it can provide relief or closure (or a good grade :)). I hope someone is inspired to try something new and realize they love it. 

Just like I did.


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