I was going through an old pile of papers in the rear of my desk and came across the papers pictured above. About 10 years ago, ER was in my 8th grade class. He was hyperactive (and also a bit on the spectrum) and was unable to stay in his seat. He took to following me around in the classroom. When I would walk to the left side of the room, he would too. When I would walk to the sink or the wastebasket or to my chair or to the window, there he would be, right behind me. I also am pretty hyperactive in class. I like to move around a lot, in fact, sometimes I actually pace, so ER got plenty of exercise that year. He was well-held by his peers. They were all used to his high energy and peculiarites so they did not find his peripatetic behavior at all unusual or distracting. All in all, it was a pretty normal year (if 8th grade can at all be labeled as “normal”) .
At some point in the year, we talked about collections. It was connected with a research project I had wanted the students to have some vested and personal interest in. He told me he had a collection of tea. He came in the next day, not with samples of his collection but with a list of all the teas he had, all listed in alphabetical order by company which produced them. As I walked to the front of the room, looking over ER’s list which he had proudly presented to me, I remember thinking how strange it was (I told him “unique”) to have a list of all the teas you drink, and thought why would anyone take the time to put the teas into any kind of a spreadsheet. When I got to the blackboard, ER, of course, was following right behind.
The real question is why have I never thrown these papers away. I have moved them from pile to pile, from one “organizing” to the next. Perhaps it is the fond memory of my shadow that year and how he visited me for the next four telling me of his adventures, especially sharing his political evolution, which unfortunately was becoming much too conservative for my taste. Perhaps it is the paradoxical nature of a list of teas which for me generally broadcast calm and being laid back and meditative presented in such an obsessively organized way which I found fascinating, intriguing even. Perhaps it is the not too surprising gift of tea which he gave me at the end of the year which actually was not on his list (I checked), which left me hopeful that not all loose ends were tied.
And so, I have moved this list of teas to yet another iteration of pile, looking forward to the next time our paths cross.