Si Dios Quiere
I wanted to write something ugly.
I wanted to hold your head under the water, force you to breathe it in, force you to learn what it feels like to have lungs weighed down by inhaled grief. I wanted to make you cry. I wanted to make you hurt the way I hurt, exhale the way I exhale when I’ve crushed my body onto the 4 train after another child’s crisis nearly went all the way left. I’m leaving alternative education and I want to make you feel as ugly as I do.
I tripped into alt ed in 2015, feet first, eyes closed. I’m walking out in 2020. Writing about teaching often feels like punching myself in the face and trying to make meaning from the patterns of the bruises. I imagined writing about my transition back into mainstream education would be a new dimension of hurt. It isn’t. It’s another exhale on the 4 train after sunset.
Pandemics being what they are, I won’t get an opportunity to say goodbye to my teachers in person. Former staff aren’t allowed back into the building. Someone will have to meet me at a bar to bring me my books, my letters, the cardboard mailbox some 10 year-olds made me in our old office, the tea that Samantha organized into jars, the mountain of fake sugar Samantha hates and I love, the planner I bragged about at our team meeting. No one will greet me in Spanish at my new job, no one will wish me buen provecho, no one will talk to me about their Noche Buena. Former staff are cut off from that rare current of Latinidad. I knew when I accepted a mainstream teaching position that I’d be volunteering my body to whiteness again. I said yes anyway.
Two days before COVID-19 sent New York City home, I hugged a girl who was leaving us to reunite with her mother after far too many years apart. I begged her teachers to take home the poem she carefully wrote onto an index card for their bulletin board. I want her words tattooed inside my arm, where I can read it over and over and over, where I can honor my time as an alternative educator, where I can scar my purpose into my skin. I’m not sure I’ll ever get the chance to bring that poem home with me. I guess it’s alright. My favorite line is already engraved into my mind.
I will be bright.
This blog post is part of the #31DaysIBPOC Blog Challenge, a month-long movement to feature the voices of indigenous and teachers of color as writers and scholars. Please CLICK HERE to read yesterday’s blog post by Aeriale Johnson (and be sure to check out the link at the end of each post to catch up on the rest of the blog circle).