Friday, November 14, 2014


As I mentioned earlier in the week, my students are writing letters to their future selves. One of the choices they have to make is how far in the future they want to write. Almost all are within 10 years, and most don't go beyond high school. That makes sense to me-- they can't really imagine themselves much older than that.

One student is a bit of an outlier in more areas than this, and he chose to write to himself 40 years from now. "I hope you have a mansion," he said, "and that you still like video games, and I really, really, really hope you're not married."

His honesty was as poignant as it was amusing, but as he revised I suggested that he add more details about the person he is now. "Forty years is a long time," I said, "you probably won't remember much at all." As I spoke, I looked at the date on the blackboard and thought back 40 years myself.

The air practically shimmered like a flashback sequence on an old TV show as I recollected the details of those long-ago days. I was in 7th grade then. I can still name several of my teachers and describe my bedroom. I know who my friends were, which pets we had, and what our gym uniforms looked like. This last detail is seared into my mind, because it was that year that I broke my arm in PE just a day after winter break. Our uniforms were one piece, zip-up garments that were sewn to look like striped shirts over solid shorts. When I fell and broke my arm, the nurse splinted it making it impossible to remove my uniform. I was forced to pull on plaid pants over it, and my mother took me to the emergency room in that embarrassing outfit.

I shared the story of my fractured ulna with the class, and they were a very appreciative audience. "Wow!" said one little girl. "How do you remember all that? I can't even remember what happened last week!"

1 comment:

  1. Your incredible memory is one of the many things I love about you...