It was a beautiful spring day and a good one to take a long walk. I found myself wandering in a new direction down streets I had not walked on in my old neighborhood for many years. Before I knew it, I had walked a few miles, turned the corner and there was my old grammar school. This building was an old-style NYC public school, unmistakably red brick with lime stone trimmings. At one time, it was a beautiful school with an expansive front lawn with 2 dozen oak and maple trees and a semi-circular path leading to a sweeping front staircase. I loved this school and while I would be hard pressed to tell you all the professors I had in college, I can remember each teacher and most of my classmates from grades 1-6. My mother also went to this grade school… so there was something especially nice about following in her footsteps. I have a great photo of my grandmother, mother and me on my 6th grade graduation by the front wrought iron fence- a happy day.
I say it was a beautiful school because shortly after I graduated… things started to change there. They decided there needed to be more room for students and that things needed to be more modernized and so they began adding on… before we knew it.. half the lawn and trees that had been there over 100 years were gone. Chain link fence went up and a big brick box was added to the front and back of the school- I presume to add more space. It was, and still is to me quite ugly and not well thought out with any concern for architecture or feeling or well, anything but greedy developers. I seem to recall there was a lot of politics around the whole mess. Then again, this is NYC… when is there NOT a lot of politics. So, not having control of any of it- and having to go forward, I let it all go… and moved on.
Yesterday, though, there it was in my face. As I walked by I was flooded with memories. I walked the perimeter of the school and caught a glimpse here and there of the old facade… you could see the windows.. now all with bars on them.. of my 4th grade classroom where I first learned french, I could see the classroom window too of where I first formally loved to paint and color and to be creative… I saw where the doorway used to be near the old playground that I entered with my mother on my very first day of kindergarten…. and the entryway near the marble steps where I fell and cracked open my chin… the scar of those stitches still there. Seven years and so many wonderful memories.
I could look at it now.. and see it as it was.. and in that moment…I saw the metaphor… of all I began in the world with.. clean and pretty and picturesque. All the writing and neat penmanship. Now, I look at all I have added on to me.. the hanging appendages of life's experiences.. much of which does not seem so pretty.. but it is there for the world to see now. I am getting too old to worry about trying to camouflage it all. I could still recognize this place.. I saw lots of kids playing in the playground. They have no idea what it used to be like.. and they love their school just as I did.
I walked to what used to be the front side of the building.. there is a little park entrance where the public can walk across what lawn there used to be. Five or six trees left… I put my hand on one trunk and felt the enormous energy of this beauty that has been watching over these kids for 100 years plus. Watched over my mother and me too. As I walked past the last tree… I looked at the bark and there carved was the letter M- that was all.
And in that moment… I felt this lovely connection…Yes Marilena- M- You are still in there… this is all part of you… It is all within… and no matter what life has brought you… it has all been for your growth. You have more space for learning now and the real beauty if on the inside… Not in the facade. It is in the spirit of the lives we touch, in the roots we plant, in the way we stretch ourselves despite the marks this can leave.
All in all good lessons to learn! And a good foundation to spring from. As I turned the last corner to go, I passed the new main entrance.. not grand doors of oak and glass but an old steel door with chipped paint… the plaque beside it read… PS 79 "Where Everyone is Special." And yes, ain't it the truth? We just have to remember, just how special we all are and to keep looking within to see it!
Going Quantum With You…