I am the best student at that which is not in the classroom. If puddle jumping were graded, I’d never miss an assignment, although the best part about puddle jumping is that it isn’t graded at all. If there were tests on how to adore another human, I’d already have my degree. If homework were kisses and laughter and love, I’d be a straight “A” student. My studies would be textbooks pushed off the table that we only use to entangle. Human anatomy learned by my own hands, eyes, lips, legs. Graded papers stacked only to be used as stands for coffee mugs, leaving circular stains as perfect picture frames.
Use your red pen to critique how I sing lullabies and never miss the sadness behind a fake smile. Give me a grade point average for diligence or dedication, patience or passion. Crunch the numbers. Put it on a transcript. Measure my worth if that is what you insist on doing.
But when you find it doesn’t fit on a transcript, that the numbers don’t add up, define me by my score in the classroom, because that is the way things are done.
These are the women I look to when I want to know what friendship is. What laughter is. What kindness is. What faith is. For years they have taught at the same Preschool week after week and shown countless children what joy looks like. They love endlessly and are loved endlessly.
Also, they happen to be very fun and very pretty. Which is why it took all of two minutes to take their picture.
Melissa Dow: teacher, reader, occasional rapper and Bohemian Rhapsody singer. The two of us embarked on our photo-shoot adventure on a surprisingly warm day for our little Northwestern town. I could tangent off into cliche observations of the brilliant dappled leaves (They really were beautiful) but I won’t. Instead I will make an observation about the lady making funny faces in the majestic autumn leaves. Put simply, Melissa Dow is hilarious. My camera could hardly keep up with her spontaneity. She read to me in Latin, rolled various accents off her tongue and the only legitimate instruction I had to give her was, “Stop talking! Your mouth is in weird shapes in all the pictures.” But what grand pictures they were. I’ve never had such ease getting shots that really showcase a person’s vibrance. Even with a book in front of her nose, Melissa could never be hidden. The more she reads, the more she knows, and the more she knows, the more she wants to tell everyone about it. As Melissa and so many other brilliant individuals before her have shown, reading is sexy. Case closed.
Using colored pencils, I did my best to capture a moment of Lizzy’s laughter. I have no experience with this medium and felt like an incompetent child most of the time I was working on the project. Still, the colors were a lot of fun to play with and even though it was a challenge, it depicts what it was meant to: a vibrant girl enjoying life in the Northwest. It doesn’t get much better than that.