I remember the smiles at ballparks and warm hotdogs and fizzy soda; and men in white, pinstriped uniforms leaning over dusty bases hitting their hands against leather gloves. I remember the smell of chicken and dumplings lingering in the air after playing basketball in my gravel driveway and shooting what seemed like a thousand baskets with a worn out ball. I remember the warmth of my mother’s hugs as she looked down at me to assure me that everything would be okay.
I remember meeting her, just a girl at the time, and falling head over heels. Her laughter brought me comfort, her kindness reassurance, and her beauty took me to my knees. I remember taking bike rides trying to balance her on my seat while I stood and pedaled, holding the handlebars steady so we didn’t fall. I remember telling her, “I love you” and committing further to a future that was unknown. I remember moving into a tiny apartment with two cats and a dog, not knowing what we were doing, but laughing a hell of a lot. I remember getting married and feeling like I was the luckiest man on Earth. I remember always feeling fortunate when I am next to her.
I remember becoming a teacher and meeting my students. It was the start of something special and a life I wouldn’t regret. I remember figuring out pretty quick that my relationship with my students was the most important part of being an educator. I remember thinking the critics that think otherwise have always struggled with their own practice and need to refocus. I remember being confident in that thought.
I remember taking walks in the woods, and playing with a crazy German Shorthaired Pointer named Payton. I remember simple talks over bottles of red wine, and enjoying meaningful conversation more than anything. I remember friends that stayed with me, and some that left, and I still love them all. I remember watching my mom grow older and wanting to hang on to each moment and conversation with her. I still remember doing that.
I remember my anxiety creating a storm in my mind and taking away all rational thought. I remember it toyed with my reality and existence and captured my breath. I remember thinking that I was weak and not worthy of anything good. I remember my depression joining in the torment just for fun and to test my grit. I remember finding courage and developing more resilience than ever, and taking back my life. I remember the confidence that gave me, knowing that I could overcome even the worst thoughts that entered my mind. I remember that freedom.
I remember taking time to reflect on what is truly important in a time of turmoil. I remember thinking that it’s the simple things in life that hold us all together. I will always remember.