Saturday, May 16, 2009

Breakfast with a Favorite Teacher

I still remember vividly the first moment that I met Donna Dutton, my Adv. English 10 teacher. She was at her lectern, preparing for her morning class. I introduced myself and took a seat in the front...and as the bell rang and class began, my mind and love for English came alive.

Always I had loved words and reading, yet it was in her class that my love for studying English literature really began. I will always have her to thank for my chief passion; it was because of Mrs. Dutton that I became an English major in college.

During our first class, we read an essay about a young lady who is eating a fish for dinner...I need to go find it (I saved everything from her class). Even in that first class (with Lucas and Alexis) I could feel my mind start to interact with words in a new way. Later, when we read The Lord of the Flies, Donna pushed me forward in my interpretations and encouraged me to explore in my dialectical journal. I distinctly remember having a conversation with her about the philosophy of interpretation because I had started to wonder about whether or not the author's intention mattered, or whether there could be one "right" interpretation and how we could know. Donna was the first to point me in the direction of the reader response philosophy and stated that it was how we argued a point that mattered. This would be the basis for nearly every Stanford English class I ever took... And when I realized what she was truly saying, my love for literature blossomed and no text was ever the same---each text, instead, became a treasure to unearth and to ponder and to love for symbolism. Still to this day my class with Donna was one of the best I have had and one of the most life shaping, not just for our academic approaches, her nurturing of our self-reflection on our own work, and some of the life philosophies she asked us to debate, but also for the person herself who was teaching it. She loved teaching and brought that passion to us everyday. I am sure she must have had days---like all of us do who teach---where she felt "off" or tired or preoccupied with something else that had to get done, but you know what? I don't ever remember her showing it. I just remember her being 100% fully engaged with us.

I have been wanting for Kate to meet her, and I have been wanting to see her again myself. I am kind of a funny person because I can have whole friendships with people without hardly ever seeing them---Shil is one example. I know he feels the same way. Some people just have an essence that is so true that you know, two, five, ten years from when you last met it face to face. Not sure if that makes sense. One of the most difficult things in any friendship is negotiating how often two friends need to see each other to still feel like friends. It is different with each friend, and I love that it is unique to the person. In my natural state, I can go a loooooong time without actually seeing a person, and I have had to learn that not everyone is that way. Which is good...because the more you get together with a friend, the more memories you have together to look back on. I also love seeing the twinkle in the eyes of my friends and hearing their voices and stories in person, like recharging my sense of their essence and feeling the light of the friendship shine on me for a moment like the sun.
So, we were able to set up breakfast for this morning. We had a yummy breakfast, and Katie loved the fruit selection and the toy animal box. Donna's house is so her in so many ways, especially the energy flowing through the house. It is a totally positive, vibrant energy yet also calm and spiritual. She has six grandchildren and she was telling me about the games they play, like "Buffet" which I totally want to remember for when Kate gets older.
Donna Dutton has always brought out the best in me in terms of fruits of the spirit, and I think that when you find someone that calls upon the best version of yourself and reminds you about what is important in life, it is a good idea to make a special place in your heart for that person. I have certainly encountered people who were able to bring out the worst in me, and those people have needed to be placed away from me. I know that Kate will grow up hearing about Mrs. Dutton, and it was an honor to share time with her in her home. Kate especially loved her dog Carly and her horses...

Here are a couple of pictures from today. Bill has a few more on his iPhone, but he is napping at the moment.

Bill, Katie, and Donna

With the Dutton's horses