What do you mean it’s not Monday?

I know, I know, I wasn’t going to post again until then, but something happened yesterday that I just want to jot down quickly before I forget.

I travelled in the morning, arrived in KY in the early afternoon, and took a nap. After my nap, I was the only one home for some reason, and the phone rang. Figuring it was for Dad or Marvis, I didn’t answer it, but I was close enough to the answering machine that I heard someone start to leave a message: “This is Mrs. Chamberlain. Rachel, your dad just told me your book is coming out soon, and I wanted to tell you…”

Mrs. Chamberlain. My sixth grade teacher. I lunged for the phone.

It turned out she had, indeed, run into Dad out at the arboretum, and he’d told her I was passing through to pick up my son on the way back from New York. “I found the listing for your book on Amazon,” she said, “and then I just really wanted to hear your voice.”

It was so nice to talk to her. She told me how much she always enjoyed my enthusiasm and imagination, and I told her (and almost made her cry, she said) that she was the very first teacher who noticed I was good at and enjoyed creative writing, and that she had encouraged me in that direction more than anyone else.

And then I realized that while I was in New York, I’d only told half a story.

Because someone (was it the photographer?) had asked me how I got started writing. And I told him that when I was eleven (6th grade) a boy in my class had boasted that he was writing a novel, and I’d thought to myself, Jonathan’s writing? How dare he! That’s MY thing! I competitively started writing a novel of my own, a straight-up LotR knock-off, longhand in spiral notebooks.

But here’s the part of the story I didn’t tell, because I hadn’t realized the truth of it: Mrs. Chamberlain was the reason writing was my thing, before I got all competitive with that boy. She had been so encouraging that year that I had taken it deeply to heart. I WAS a writer, down to my toes. She told me so, and I believed her. I gained an identity in sixth grade.

So there you go. Teachers really do shape lives. I feel so very fortunate that I got to thank her yesterday.

2 thoughts on “What do you mean it’s not Monday?

  1. You know that she was thrilled to be able to talk to you. And you know also that you made her day (her week/her year)!

    Teachers love nothing more than seeing students succeed and boy, are you ever succeeding!

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