The Irony of Running into My 11th Grade Language Arts Teacher

God, I hope she never reads this.

If you’ve been following me this year, then you know I’ve fallen off. I don’t write blogs as frequently as I should. I am late responding to Facebook notifications (primarily because I removed the app from my phone) and I rarely share pictures of my life on Instagram. I wrote about my bouts of depression and emotional eating. 2017 is forcing me to deal. I can’t even resize pics on my blog. Idk, what is life.

Laying low turned out to be the best coping mechanism. Life is far from bad, however, this isn’t the season of harvest that I greatly anticipated.

I’m also coping with the passing of my favorite aunt. This year is a wild one, yet it’s also serving as a reminder regarding the beauty and value of family. When I’m not freelancing up and down the East coast, I am catching up with my family and close friends in Greenville, SC. I’ll go ahead and say it now. Can’t stand Greenville. Nope, not ever.

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I complained for years in Charlotte, but it’s more vibrant and livelier than this. When I tell people that Greenville is my hometown, I always get the response of “The downtown area is beautiful. I LOVE Greenville!”. I smile awkwardly thinking “This segregated ass, gentrified face city. Okay.” I reserve Tyler X for my trill Facebook statuses. She’s unwarranted in day-to-day interactions.

That being said, I am also reminded each time that I am home how I have no value here outside of the walls of my childhood home. I’m convinced that 93% of men here don’t like Black women (fight me), so I keep my interactions with the opposite sex at a minimum.

Except for my Walmart bae.

Photo Credit: Tumblr
Photo Credit: Tumblr

So what do I do for recreation? I dress up and go to Walmart.

Exclusive footage of me in the produce section.

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Photo: Tenor

Ya’ll there is this fine brotha that works in produce at Walmart. I visit weekly, never purchasing their trash ass fruits and veggies, just to have small talk with him. This is so sad on so many levels. Before and after I go inside the store, I sit in my car scrolling up and down Instagram and Twitter.

Here’s a tweet from the parking lot.

So sad.

Today, I did my usual routine: shake off a good wig, throw on some jeans, put on some purple lipstick, and went on my fake date at Walmart.

Here’s another desperate tweet that I sent from the parking lot:

When I left the store, I sat in the car for a few minutes reading the dumpster fire called comments on Facebook and wondering when Jesus is coming back to get us all, then I realized I was about to run out of gas. I traveled next door to the gas station and saw a familiar face.

Let’s call her Ms. Ling for the sake of privacy. It was Ms. Ling, my 11th grade Language Arts teacher. I got out of the car and said her name, she turned around and smiled. I know she didn’t know who the hell I was, but it was so nice for her to pretend.

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Photo: Giphy

I said, “Tyler Young, class of 2006.” I was wearing a new wig and once I pulled the curls back from my face, she recognized me. We hugged and briefly caught up. I gave her a few details about this life that I’m constantly unsure about and she told me about her new school that she teaches at. Ms. Ling’s face lit up when I informed her that I chose a life as a writer. Back in the day, she introduced me to my favorites, Of Mice and Men and The Great Gatsby. At sixteen, she recognized my talent with words.

Then I apologized to her. I don’t even know where this apology came from but it slipped from my subconscious.

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“I know I wasn’t the easiest student to deal with, but you played a pivotal role in my life.” She smiled ear to ear, telling me not to apologize for anything.

But, I’m over here like, “Sis, I don’t know why I’m apologizing either.”

Outside of basic student interruption in the early 2000’s like note passing and talking during class, I had no clue of what was causing my guilty conscience. Ms. Ling and I agreed to stay in touch. She gave me her email address and we hugged again, parting ways.

I intend to email her, sooner or later.

I got in my car and drove a few miles, then it hit me. “You used to irritate the fuck out of her.”

Me remembering my teenage foolery.

Photo Credit: Tumblr
Photo Credit: Tumblr

So here’s what happened. I graduated in the top 10 percent of my class in high school. I ended up with a full ride to college, but getting there comes with a heap of foolishness. I loved cracking jokes in class, often at the expense of my teachers and classmates. I wouldn’t say that I was the most disrespectful pupil, however, I wasn’t the most respectful either.

In regards to Ms. Ling, I used to pick on her.

Why, you ask?

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Photo Credit: ABC / Blackish

Well, Ms. Ling was unmarried and childless in her late thirties at the time. I lived by old Southern ways that women should be married with at least one child by thirty. Idk if that is a Southern standard or what I conjured up in my fantasy world.

Me looking at me about to turn thirty in 308 days with no prospects.

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Photo: Tumblr

Each class, I reminded Ms. Ling that she was alone. I would walk into third period and say “How’s your boyfriend?”. She would say, “Enough Tyler” and I would respond, “I’m just checking in on how he’s doing. You do have one don’t you?”

Please, God, don’t send me to hell.

I was truly making a joke to get her to loosen up, she always seemed on edge, while also hoping to find favor with my classmates by cracking tacky jokes. It worked, but at whose expense?

So here we are 13 years later. I’m standing face to face with Ms. Ling, the woman I taunted for being unmarried. Here, the universe came full-circle.

spiderman

I too am single. I reduced Ms. Ling to a marital status. I could never walk in her shoes or claim to have empathy for her life, but I hate it when society attempts to diminish my value because I haven’t walked down the aisle or given birth. I am many things, but I’m not damaged goods. I am lonely AF though. On my drive home, I thought long and hard about “the hate you give” and how words never die. No matter how much good I’ve done since leaving Ms. Ling’s class 13 years ago, I know I left a hurtful impression. My younger self saw a mirror in Ms. Ling.

As my grandfather used to say, “Laughing is catching.” I caught exactly what I put into the universe.

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I'm a girl. My name is Tyler. Girls can be named Tyler. GirlTyler.com

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