“We all have our time machines. Some take us back; they’re called memories. Others take us forward; they’re called dreams.”
Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a quote fanatic. I have been for as long as I can remember, and I probably always will be. There’s just something I love about them, something about the way we can take these words spoken or written by someone else and use them as inspiration in our own lives. I’ve lost count of the number of quote books I have (and let’s not even get into how many I’ve found online). This one in particular has always been one of my favorites. We all have those watershed moments, the ones that will stand out as milestones in our lives. But what about the other moments? What about the more ordinary moments? Often times, they’re every bit as special, just in their own way. Every moment we experience and every memory we make is important. Each one is a stepping stone in the timeline of our lives. So often, we spend so much time looking toward the future that we forget to acknowledge the past. It’s important to get that time machine out every once in awhile, to reflect on the special memories from the past, tie them together with the moments from the present, and create our dreams for the future. Those time machines can come in so many forms – a photograph, a reminisence, an old journal entry, and so much more. What’s your time machine? Where does it take you? Where will it take you?
My time machine today came in the form of a visit with my 11th grade AP English teacher. Not only is she one of the smartest people I’ve ever known, but also one of the kindest. She always used to say “It’s the Italian mother in me,” and I think that’s the perfect way to describe her. Not only did she have a genuine love of teaching (and she still does), but a genuine compassion and caring for her students. She wanted us to do well. She wanted us to learn. She wanted the very best for us. At the same time, she pushed us to expand our horizons, to rise to our fullest potential. She pushed us to not only be the best we could be, but to want to be the best we could be. I learned more in her class than I did in any other – and, beyond that, her AP English class is what solidified for me just how much I love writing. When I look back at the papers I wrote for her, I see a drastic difference from the first one I wrote in September to the last one I wrote in May. I will never forget when we were studying and preparing for the AP exam. She had us answer sample questions, and then she graded our essays. When she handed mine back to me with a bright red “5” (the best score you could hope for on an AP test) on the top, I nearly fell out of my chair. No exaggeration there. I still have that essay, more than nine years later, because getting it back is a moment I’ll never forget. That “5” from her meant so much more than whatever score I would get on the actual exam, because she’s the one who truly taught me what it means to be a writer. I so respect her, and I will be forever grateful that I decided to take that AP class. It was invaluable to me in so many ways. I didn’t just grow as a writer. I grew as a person.
Mrs. P. and I have kept in touch ever since I took her class (it’s seriously beyond crazy to me to think that this September will be ten years since the first day – where in the world does the time go?), and I’ve always been sure to go back and visit her at least once a year. Somehow time got away from me this year, so we decided to meet up for lunch so we could visit and catch up with each other. She’s still every bit the Italian mother that she was when I took her class, and it was so nice to be able to fill her in on everything that’s going on with me and hear about everything that’s going on with her (as she said, we were so busy “gabbing” that we hadn’t even looked at the menus by the time the waitress came to take our order!). I have to admit, though, I was a little nervous about telling her about the books at first. I’m really not sure why, because I know her well enough to know that she’d be nothing but supportive. I suppose it’s because I really credit her with being the one to push me to be the best writer I could be. Her class changed me – and my writing – in so many ways. She taught me so much that I could never list it all. Her class was one of those points on my timeline that was life-changing. I value her opinion so much, especially about something like this. I have to say, I feel like a complete and total fool for ever feeling nervous. She couldn’t possibly have been more supportive, encouraging, and interested in everything about it. I think the best way to describe it is just to say that she “got it.” She completely understood … and she summed it up perfectly when we were talking about how much I love to write, what a passion it is for me. She said “it’s like you just can’t help it.” She couldn’t possibly be more right. For me, it’s more than just wanting to write. It’s that I need to write. It’s that I literally couldn’t stop if I tried. It means too much to me. It’s too much of a passion. As Mrs. P. said, I can’t help it – and I don’t want to.
Today just reaffirmed for me all over again that this is what I’m determined to do with my life – no matter how long it takes, no matter what I have to do. As I told Mrs. P., working on this doesn’t even feel like work for me. It’s truly a labor of love. And really, how many people are lucky enough to find something they’re so passionate about? That’s a blessing I don’t take lightly. It’s proof that if you have that passion, if you have that dream, you have to go for it. You have to keep working at it and you have to keep believing in it. And if you just so happen to be lucky enough to have amazing people supporting you along the way? Then you’re doubly blessed. I know how lucky I am to have so much support and encouragement. I know how lucky I am to have people in my life, who, when they say “I understand,” I know they truly mean it (hk, that means you!). I know how lucky I am to have a time machine that will take me back through my memories and forward through my dreams.
When our lunch visit was finished, Mrs. P. gave me a hug, told me to please keep her updated on the book and everything else, promised we’d visit again soon, and made me promise to “keep writing!” That’s a promise I’ll be all too happy to keep. After all, I couldn’t stop if I tried.