Sunday, April 03, 2011

What I Like About...

I was a Junior at Shaker Heights High School in Shaker Heights, OH for just a semester. Our family had moved there from Opelika, AL when my Dad went back to work for True Temper. As luck would have it the president of the company decided to move the corporate headquarters from Cleveland to Shiremanstown, PA at the same time. So, I was only at SHHS for that one semester. Yet, years later I am reminded of the AP English teacher I had (Mr Newby) and my classmates because of a single sheet of paper.
One afternoon, we walked into our English classroom to find 18 large sheets of white paper arranged around the room, hanging from the walls. Across the top of each was written in large black letters, "What I like about_______ is:". Each sheet had one of our names across the top. We were instructed to take a colored marker and circle the room, thinking about the person named on each sheet and making a note to them about what we like best about them.
I came across that sheet of paper today while going through boxes of stuff and packing and purging my stuff in preparation to move as we work through this divorce and go our separate ways. It's a simple exercise that can yield profound results. Especially if you were previously having a bad day.
The words on this paper were written almost 30 years ago. I am as blown away by them today as I was then. They don't reveal any huge surprises, just reinforce that my basic personality, my good qualities are the same as they have always been and hopefully always will be.
Here's what my peers wrote when they were asked to write down what they like about Susan Baiman...
**Good pianist
**her truly warm, gutsy personality
**her friendliness
**her conversation and ability to be understanding
**her happy, caring manner
**her desire to be as friendly as possible with many people
**ability to make friends with anyone
**that she has more colored pens than Mr Newby
**her ability to make a person feel at ease
**that she ALWAYS puts warmth out for others
**her outgoing warmth makes me feel very good
**her quickness to laugh
**the speed at which she can put someone at ease
**her friendliness to new people
**her friendliness and her ability to make others laugh
**her incredible sense of my humor. She doesn't even miss the one-liners under the breath.
I'm pretty sure we all rolled our eyes a bit when the exercise was explained to us; but I think we all took it seriously and actually enjoyed doing it. All I can tell you is that from 30 years later when I'm going through the most difficult time in my life so far, these simple words mean a great deal to me. They remind me that in so many ways, I am still that girl. The people saying these kinds of things to me have changed over the years but the fact that some of the words are still the same gives me hope that when this is all over I will still be me; a little worse for the wear, hopefully a bit wiser, but still the same me my classmates wrote about all those years ago.

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