by Linda G. Harris
Age 71. Las Cruces, NM
I have always had great curiosity and from somewhere confidence in myself. Many, many times I’ve drawn on what I feel is a generous measure of knowing what I should do. Sometimes, in fact many times I’ve either made the wrong choice or had to accept decisions of others that I disagreed with. In high school I had an English teacher who would read poetry to the class. One time he began to cry while reading and a student, a boy, stepped up and finished the poem. Nobody laughed at either one. Although I was an unremarkable student, I knew that words could be beautiful and I wanted a life full of beautiful and interesting stories.
I came from a working class, tumultuous family. My stepfather drank and we were often broke. My mother was very emotional but also took on the hard work of helping support us. Again in high school I had a teacher who opened up a wider world for me. She came from a wealthy southern family, she had been a ballerina, and she was married to a West Point officer. She taught modern dance and during the health portion she showed slides of her post-college trip to Europe simply to look at architecture. From that day I knew I would make such a trip. It took 20 years, but I have gone to Europe again and again. But most important is that these two young teachers made me realize that I did not have to live the desperate lives of my parents. And I haven’t.