New things are on the horizon for me and my art, and hopefully it will include artists that want to connect up and share, too. More coming this summer. Suspense!
Will be dropping off a textile art piece to share for the 375th "Paint the Town" exhibit this week. It may or may not be finished at this point, not saying, but it will be done by drop off time. The photo to the left is the digital print I began with, and it shows my little house on one of the oldest maps in Reading.
I like the piece and it says what I wanted it to say -- that living in good old 01867 has really been ground zero in my world, that my center never shifted -- even when I was living in Istanbul or Somerville. Home is here, in this old house, on this old street, a few doors down from the school where I am fortunate enough to now teach. I have memories of my Irish Grandfather living in Reading when I was little, and us walking together from the candy store near the depot, and him covering me with his jacket when it started to rain. Of my mom and me sneaking to McDonalds for a picnic lunch (and to feed the pigeons) when other 5 year olds were in kindergarten, and I had yet to start school. Of church fairs, school open houses, and the lights on the common. All of it. I have so many memories, and as a friend once said, "have the deepest roots of anyone she's ever known." I don't know why. Mom and Dad Ropple are buried up the street, and I can still bring flowers from their yard to their graves (as Dad requested.) I can be woken up by sunshine in my bed in the same place it was 45 years ago. Now, though, I share the room with my pups and cats, not my poor sister who always was more organized than I was!
Most of all, I can be part of teaching kids here -- an honor that I will never ever be able to understand. I used to walk my dogs around Parker before being a teacher, in awe of the building and the unbelievable people who staffed it. Once I'd started to study teaching, I distinctly remember telling my dog that "One day, after I teach for a long time somewhere else and get good enough, maybe, just maybe, I can teach here." My boxer girl said "yeah, right," and was not too worried about the chances of that happening.
The school, under the leadership of Jack Delaney, was iconic in so many Reading kids' lives. Fast forward twenty five years and I still shake my head with wonder at the role I've been given, and perpetually question my efficacy. Teaching is truly the toughest job you'll ever love. To all the kids whose needs I did not meet, I give you a heartfelt apology and hope you were able to find it somewhere else. For those of you who I can or could help, I am grateful for the opportunity. I am grateful now, too, that our school has an outstanding principal, Richelle Shankland, providing true leadership and devotion with humor, professionalism, and sheer talent. We are so lucky to have her.
As Reading turns 375, I think of all my memories, which condense into such a short time compared to the town's long history, and am grateful that I was able to stay. A little town, a strange town, my soul's Ground Zero. Happy Birthday, Reading!