From Gracie: Following our stay at La Posada in Winslow, we did what any other road weary traveler would do: we reunited with my former grade school social studies teacher and her husband as we passed through Albuquerque, New Mexico. The St. Johns welcomed us with open arms and a box full of mortifying photos chronicling my tweens.
Soon after our arrival though, Andrew unfortunately came down with a bad flu and spent the remainder of the weekend under the weather and under the covers. Very luckily for us—our hosts made us feel comfortably at home as Andrew rested and I spent the next 48 hours catching up with my favorite teacher.
A few admissions:
- Throughout the weekend, I continually struggled to call my former teacher by her first name. I just couldn’t do it. So then I simply resorted to not calling her anything. I didn’t address her as Carol OR Mrs. St. John. In talking to others throughout the weekend, I’d simply refer to her with the following pronouns: “Yes…WE were just chatting” or “How exciting! SHE just told me about Alex’s upcoming plans…” or “Well our wonderful HOST said SHE recently visited that vineyard!” It was…pathetic.
- Even though he was battling a fever, Andrew gleefully listened in as Carol shared stories of my grade school years at Father Sweeney School in Peoria, IL. She recounted how once when I was in the 5th grade, she asked me in the middle of class if I could be quiet for more than 2 consecutive minutes and not continually chat with my neighbor. I apparently threw my hands up in the air and loudly exclaimed, “I know, I know. I’m sorry. It’s my biggest problem. My mom asks me that all the time, too.” (I have no further comment on this baseless accusation.)
- After enjoying several glasses of Pinot Noir together (!) Carol asked me to update her on every other student I could remember from Father Sweeney days. I did my best to summarize everyone’s past 15 or so years. We chatted about Father Sweeney mainstays: Immersion, red shoelaces for gym shoes, Declamations, Wordly Wise, and the infamous teepee scene from Dances With Wolves. Other “noisy newcomers of 1994” may remember that our annual Odyssey of the Mind skit featured Mrs. St. John as a lead character; I reminded her of this great honor and she wanted to hear more about our OM team. She was appropriately speechless when I recounted Kara Lamb’s answer when presented with the word prominent in a spontaneous competition. At the ripe age of ten, Kara had said “The seniors decorated the gym and held a prominent.” Boom goes the OM dynamite!
Following our weekend of stories, smiles, homemade dinners, 4 loads of laundry, and 3 gallons of Gatorade for Andrew–all thanks to our very generous hosts–my husband’s temperature was back to normal and we were ready to head north to Santa Fe.
I was looking forward to seeing the famous Georgia O’Keeffe country, but I was already secretly longing for a daily dose of Mrs. St. John’s wisdom and creativity.
And so, she and I have emailed almost every day since our departure.