Friday, July 21, 2006

Sunday Scribblings: Thief!

The first thing I ever stole was a teaching manual in 2nd grade. Our teacher, Mrs. Nadison, had an entire stack of them on the back shelf--and I coveted them. One day, after deciding that they looked old and unused (this may or may not have been true), I decided that they should be mine.

I calmly calculated my moves...and waited patiently. I waited...through the long morning... I waited ...until finally...I followed my class to the cafeteria for lunch...ate...went outside...and then snuck back in.

It was spring.

Everyone else was out on the playground. But inside, it was quiet, with dust-motes dancing golden between the legs of the desks and the hardwood floor. My wind-breaker made loud rustling sounds and, without feeling an inch of remorse, I carried the heavy, spiral bound books across the room. I moved quickly, but the dog-eared, over-sized pages barely fit into my backpack. My hands shook until the zipper was securely closed and I had returned outside. The dust continued to float in the empty, sun-filled classroom while Jesus hung tiredly from a cross next to a map of the world.

When I got home I kept the books in the third drawer of my dresser (come to think of it, I still have the same dresser). I would take them out occasionally and sneak them down to the shop. You see, growing up, I lived above a flower shop, and at night, while my dad bartended and my mom watched tv, I conducted class in the flower shop's back office. I had a chalk board and an easel to set it on. In the dim light of an old desk lamp, I taught writing. Sentences, actually. And with the manual--I felt like I had it all.

Long after second grade it dawned on me that maybe my teacher needed those books. But even when my friend, Noel, eventually ratted me out I never felt sorry for taking them. I think I got grounded, yelled at, lectured, and had to return them with an apology. It felt dramatic--but I didn't care because I wasn't sorry. I loved those books. I was fascinated by them. Those books held THE ANSWERS!!! (not that we were even studying the material).

Twenty years later I taught my first writing class. And I still don't regret it.


*More thievery here.

15 comments:

Kristine said...

I love it! I guess it means you are doing what you have wanted to do all along!
I love the photo too! So cute!

Kamsin said...

That's a great story! How can you really get mad at a kid for stealing a teaching book!

gkgirl said...

i love love love this...
especially the details...
the windbreaker,
the playground,
the dustmotes...

great job...
:)

MiandMiksmom said...

Teaching books...that is so cute! I bet your teacher wanted to just give them to you when you 'fessed up!

paris parfait said...

Fantastic story, Jessie! Very entertaining.

Chelle Y. said...

That sounds like something I did one time. I stole an answer key from my teacher. I did not want to get caught, so I flushed it down the toliet.

She went to grade my test, and it the answers were not there. I got caught anyway. Haha!

Mardougrrl said...

Hee! I loved this story! What wonderful grounding details...the dustmotes which always danced more in the spring, didn't they? And the windbreaker. I loved that you were completely unrepentant. And that you stole ALL of them. :)

kj said...

hello jessie, i can't tell you how i found my way to your blog but here i am. i hope you don't mind. i am a writer.

good story. i can so clearly envision the (charming) writing class in the flower shop.

as for no repentence, i wrote something about this on my blog about the dixie chicks/not ready to make nice.

look forward to reading more of your writing.

kj

Elizabeth said...

Amazing story. I can see the late afternoon spotlighting the dust motes. Love the part about wanting to have the answers in your hands.

kj said...

jessie, i'm glad your visited my blog. i also sign that song when driving, and like you, it's loud.

i'll be reading more of your blog.

kj

Renee said...

That's a great story! I find it sweet that you wanted those books so badly.

Tammy said...

What a cutie pie! Your passion was emerging...great story :)

briliantdonkey said...

great story.....Seeing the way that things turned out I am not suprised. Call it what you will.....God,,,,Karma,,,,or just coincidence but In my mind there is a reason you still feel no remorse about it. That book stole YOU not the other way around.

Rob

HoBess said...

Picture? Worth a thousand words. The words here? Priceless!

I'm off for a short family trip, but I'll be thinking of you as you move. Good Luck!

Kay said...

I didn't even know what a dust mote was! Great story!