Who’s Counting? Two

Courtesy of The Fact Site, the number 2 is the first prime number, and it’s either the third or fourth number in the Fibonacci sequence–and that’s significant because math is beautiful and everywhere. Courtesy of Three Dog Night, “2 can be as bad as 1; it’s the loneliest number since the number 1,” followed by the glorious and inexplicable non-lyric, “uh.” Seriously. Give it a listen. Courtesy of my own associations, the number 2 is yin and yang, me and you, unity and opposition both, left and right, hands, feet, eyes, nostrils, ears, kidneys, certain male unmentionables, the fallopians and the ovaries, ones and zeros, dark and light, sun and moon, being and unbeing; essentially, the number 2 is everything and everywhere all at once–which is a deliberate allusion to the film everyone is talking about these days about the multiverse. Also, I’ve had too much coffee. Also, today is the penultimate day, the next to last day, the SECOND to last day of my career in public education.

As you know if you have been following this experiment, I am attempting, in between my last meetings with students, while I grade and clean and pack up, to listen to all of the albums in my classroom record collection from Z to A before I leave the room for the very last time, never (never say never) to return. This morning’s first selection on opaque white vinyl: E.P. 001 from Honorary Astronaut.

And look! The arrival of my 7th period English 10 students to deliver their Romeo and Juliet final projects. Cool playlists chosen to match the story and themes of Shakespeare’s tragedy contain some surprises: Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill” and The Carpenter’s “Close to You” are notable standouts. And a befuddling shout out to an artist named Bon Fovi. Never heard of that guy. There was a diary from Juliet’s point of view, the last entry of which she wrote right before taking the sleeping potion. We saw a presentation of the various weapons used to kill the various dead people from the play and their potential symbolic significance, including a very astute description of a deadly weapon called “Grief.” That’s what killed Lady Montague. There was a clay sculpture of the balcony scene complete with little dialogue signs. It’s kind of adorable. You have to see it:

I said goodbye to my very last group of public high school students.

Seventh period reflections, done. And every once in a great while, a student will sneak in a little extra something twenty blank lines or so after the last sentence of his or her reflection: “I appreciate you! I’m glad you were my teacher and I love your energy. It makes me happy. It’s never too late to follow your dreams, so I wish you the best on your writing career. I’m sure you’ll do beyond great. I see a lot of potential in you, Mr. Jarmer! You got this. Just don’t forget the one and only Yair. If you see a Yair or a Gomez playing soccer on TV, it’s me! But yeah, thank you for everything.” This nearly brought me to tears. This from one of the kindest, most gentle souls–the kind of student from which comments like this carry enormous weight. It makes me happy.

OMG–how’d this get into the classroom record collection? Play: Songs from Shakespeare by Here Comes Everybody. I love this band, and what a great sounding album. These Romeo & Juliet songs are abfabsolutely apropos!

Seventh period final Romeo and Juliet projects, done.

And before I can put on another record, it’s 12:30, time for a staff lunch, food provided by the good folks across the street at the Life Journey Church. The main purpose of this lunch, however, is to celebrate and send off with cheer all the Putnam people who are moving on: student teachers, teachers moving away or changing jobs, and teachers retiring. Hold on tight. This is gonna be a doozy of a staff lunch.

And it was a doozy of a staff lunch. Colleagues took turns saying lovely, thoughtful, kind things about those of us who were leaving. It was impossibly achy-breaky, emotionally exhausting and exhilarating all at once, and sometimes super funny. Lots of laughs and tears and then some more tears and laughter. And I think there is something so very strange about listening to our dear colleagues talking about us in this way. For me, almost an out of body experience, because, you know, I’m there in the room as I would be on any other last day of the school year when people are sharing their love and appreciation for the folks moving on, but this time the subject is me–or somebody very much like me–and I find myself thinking, wow, this guy must be really something; even while the presenter is looking right at me and saying my name, part of me is thinking that they’re talking about some other person. In my case, two colleagues who are two of the most cherished human beings in my life said the most kind and generous things. I am bowled over with gratitude and humility and love.

The English Department gifted me a beautiful certificate for music from Music Millennium! And all of us retirees got these beautiful word clouds printed exquisitely in school colors on canvas. Here’s mine, shaped like a record album!

I must say that the most interesting thing to me here is the descriptor “Kandinsky-esque.” I had to look that up and was quite pleasantly surprised. Also love the “woo-hoo”–a phrase that only the teachers who might be my classroom neighbors would understand. I am fond, apparently, of the woo-hoo and can be heard woo-hooing quite often, maybe even daily. And I appreciate a great deal the word “lover”–although I promise that no one on staff knows me in quite the way that word would suggest, so I am hoping that they meant that I am passionate about a great many things. Sure, that makes me a lover. I approve this message.

After that, a few cherished visits and conversations with a couple of my good teacher friends, it’s almost 2:30 and I am determined to submit my grades by the end of the day. And now I’m spinning As Long As You Are by the band appropriately named (for my moment) Future Islands. It’s 4 o’clock, or close to it, when I submit the last class set of grades, shut everything down, and leave the classroom the penultimate time, second to last, next to last, before I can finally be off to my own future islands.

Published by michaeljarmer

I'm a public high school English teacher, fiction writer, poet, and musician in Portland, Oregon

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