As a small child you might say that I lived under a rock, a very large and solitary rock. I did not play video games, watch cable T.V. or even go to the movies. I did not know that there was wrestling on television, nor did I know anything about sports as they are. I knew little, very little, about anything and everything.All I had was two acres of land to play on, a pair of dogs, and a tire swing. Then a kind face changed all of that and turned my world upside down and shook it. For better or worse.
My mother woke me with a touch on my shoulder. It was late in the summer, and I had slept on the floor in front of the air conditioner. My brother, three years old, still lay fast asleep on my bed. “Come on,” she said, “ get dressed, you’re going to school today.” I was confused, I had never gone to school, seen a school, or known anyone who was going to school except for my cousin Josh, but he didn’t tell me about it. My mom had mentioned something about it, but I didn’t really pay attention. I was confused, but I did as was told. She made me bring the gray bag I used when I slept over at my grandmother’s house. We also brought a gift my mother didn’t say whom it was for though. I did know however what it was it was a little potted cactus the size of my thumb. It had been growing for five years and my dad said it would grow for another fifty or more. Then she led me out to the car and buckled me up. Then she drove off without my brother.
Then I was really confused because I had never gone anywhere without my brother before as long as I could remember. A short while later I was walking into a long white building with neat little windows. My mother was just in front of me. There were others here, of all shapes and sizes, colors and hues, ages and grades. “Just like on TV,” I thought. There were many other scared small kids like me. We were all being corralled into the biggest room I had ever seen, along with many good-mornings and how-are-you-today’s. I had never seen this many people in one spot. Someone stood up and spoke for a really long time I didn’t catch all of what she said just a few fragments about “the future” and peace” and “important day for all of us”. I remember my mom saying that the future was what was going to happen tomorrow. Tomorrow has to be really important for someone to talk this long.
I didn’t know who Mrs. Latham was, but my mom said that she was going to teach me. I thought she meant like when my dad taught me to do the dishes. I didn’t want to go to school anymore if they were going to make me do chores. The old charcoaled lady that talked a long time showed me the way to another really big room not anywhere as big as the first but still very big.
A big soft face greeted me at the door; this was Mrs. Latham. Another lady named Mrs. Arnold, who stood next to her, said hello. A gentle pull of my shoulder, and a bright smile lured me away from my mother. I was once again led this time to a spot in a circle on the floor with others. A boy the color of milk chocolate and no hair said to me, “What’s your name? Mine’s Accun.” He spoke like the man at the gas station My mom had taken me to once.
He would be my friend for just half a year before he and his family moved to Memphis because his dad was looking for work. I still say hello to Mrs. Arnold occasionally when I see her, and I had her for eighth grade too. Mrs. Latham sadly died last year but a few months before she went she paid a visit to the school she taught at and I had just happened to be there hanging out with the new middle school kids. I knew most of their big brothers and sisters, and decided to pay a visit. The most striking thing about the last time I saw her was that she gave me something. Something back. Just a little bigger than I had last seen it.