I quickly searched the Seattle school district website for all elementary schools in the area. I searched her name on every elementary school and within the district website. Finally, when I had grown tired of my game, I tried one last search and came up with a picture directory of faculty. I scrolled, holding my breath and there...there she was, looking exactly the same. Her name and e-mail address. I didn't react for a few seconds, I just stared. Finally, I started to compose an e-mail to her, hoping that the website wasn't listing outdated information. I didn't know how to start. How do I tell someone after a 7-8 year silence that I wanted to get back in touch? How could I draft this without coming off as a creep? I did my best, related some experiences that might jog her memory and let her know that I wanted to stay in touch...but how could I explain why? If she didn't want to respond, what is the one thing I should let her know?
I decided to end my email with gratitude. I remembered her warmth, her friendship, her involvement in my life that meant so much to me, and the multiplication table songs she taught that I still sing to myself for the 7's and above (don't judge, those are tricky). I don't even remember why she meant so much to me, to be honest, but I just remember that she did, and obviously still does. That was all I could tell her, and hope that it didn't scare her into reporting my e-mail as spam. And even now, a few hours later, I'm still thinking about it, still feeling good about just finding her and letting her know.
Today my thoughts were on teachers, but recently I've just been thinking a lot about all the people, teacher or otherwise, that have left a deep influence on me. I've been thinking about how rare it is for an expression of true emotion, particularly face to face, to occur. Personally, I know that I weep voraciously when I try to tell someone how much they've touched my heart, so I try to keep it to writing, but I think even if I didn't, it would still be borderline taboo to be so heartfelt in person. I probably am reserved out of my own misreading of social cues, but it is what it is. The other half of this is that most people (myself included) are really bad at receiving compliments in person. You feel uncomfortable and awkward to be talked about, and even worse if there are other parties present. And yet here it is, my unequivocal belief: everyone should know how much they are loved and the power they wield to touch another life. I hate that all of my posts end on a soapbox, but honestly, give it a try.