Thursday, June 28, 2007

Old School

This summer I have been reading the book, Writing Down The Bones. The author, Natalie Goldberg, suggests writing practice everyday. The rules for writing practice are simple: Keep your hand (or fingers on a keyboard) moving; Don't edit as you write (or type) ; don't worry about spelling, punctuation or grammar; lose control; don't think and don't be logical; go for the jugular (meaning don't avoid scary subjects that arise during writing practice). You are not trying to write a poem, an essay or the Great American Novel. You are simply getting in touch with your inner voice. Many of her suggestions I can use with my students when they are writing. I thought I would try to discipline myself to write everyday this summer. I write for ten minutes without stopping following the rules listed above. Today I would like to use this picture as a jumping off point for my writing. Here goes...

I walked into the auditorium of the school. It was right across the hall from the room where I would be teaching summer school. I'm glad it was so close because I love this auditorium. At first I saw it from a photographer's point of view...great light coming through the windows and bouncing off the smooth, worn wood of the seats, the lines of the old radiator and the rough, patched walls. Then I stepped further into the aisles and was transported back to my childhood. I went to a school that had an auditorium like this. The smell was the first thing I noticed. What is that smell? It seems to be a musty mixture of furniture polish, old wax on the linoleum tile floors, and damp plaster. I could almost hear the seats squeak as children filed in row by row, class by class and sat in their assigned seats. Then the giggles and talking, the teachers shushing, the feet scraping on the floor. And without fail the PA system would have to squeal and everyone would cover their ears until someone, usually the janitor turned down the volume. Remember in the winter, the first day it was cold enough to turn on the radiators, there was always the scorched smell of dust being burnt off, dust that had settled during the spring when the weather was warm and the windows were always open to catch the slight breeze and the sounds of the traffic passing by... I remember the assemblies were usually boring...someone talking for a long time while we whispered to our friends , passed notes and watched to see if the guy we were currently in love with had noticed us yet. For some reason I remember Allen...of all my friends he comes to my mind when I am in the auditorium...I also remember him on the playground. Trying so hard to show everyone he could do what all the other boys could do. He would climb fences, walk on monkey bars and jump from the swing. He was shorter than everyone else and because of polio he had braces on both legs. I can still see his dark brown eyes and determined face. He would not be treated differently. I remember hurting his feelings once because I offered to help him perform some task...his eyes filled with tears and he said he didn't need my help. Seems he also had that chip on his shoulder... I saw his picture in the paper years later...he was an archaeologist and had made some very important discovery...dinosaur fossil I think. I'm glad he received the recognition...in the picture in the newspaper he was taller...no braces on his legs...handsome...with those dark brown eyes and the slightest hint of a proud smile...good for you, Allen! I sat in the cool darkness of the auditorium remembering...


2 comments:

Karel said...

Captivating text, gorgeous picture! Congrats, Rhonda!

Larry B said...

I like the photograph a great deal (it is evocative of earlier days to me, too), and the memories the smell brings back are rich in detail.