He Was A Tree

by - April 5, 2011

He was a tree.

Reaching inspired roots into my cerebral depth.  Gangly boughs affixed with hands so broad - thumbnails the size of bottle caps, palms like canvas - never touching the blackboard but moulding us into free, creative thinkers.  Soft spoken like a slow wind through fresh bud leaves.  Caught in a proverbial time-warp of polyester pants, brown loafers and almost afros, this giant man-child of the sixties.  Each leaf a frond of wisdom to collect and hoard in an old hardcover for moments of self-doubt.

He'd take a wide stance in front or sit on the edge of his desk.  Or he fumbled at the turntable until A Hard Days Night hailed us as he matched Ringo's rhythm against his hip with a mighty slap, slap, slap of that mighty palm.

My sixteen-year-old self*
"Everyone learns differently.  If you work well at a desk, do it.  If you want to lay on the floor, do it - there are some pillows in the corner.  If you want to sit on a cafeteria tray in the middle of the football field and throw gum balls at seagulls, do it.  As long as you turn in quality work."
For the first time in my life silence was celebrated, thought was respected, abstract approach was promoted and The Beatles became a constant, impassioned soundtrack - be the first to arrive and own the choice for the day -  I fell so hard for Yesterday that I would rush from Biology, a spirited streak of blond and thrift store and knock-off Birkenstocks, to spin the Help! album beneath that perfect, scratchy needle and sink into the joy that was WRITTEN WORD and sharpen my pencil four times because if I used a pen I would be less interesting and he inspired me to be anything but ordinary as I scribbled out the first draft of my first novel.

The world is full of teachers.  Some are good.  Very few are exceptional.  I was lucky enough to have one of the exceptional.  A blade of grass beneath his far-reaching branches.  A sixteen year old girl sitting cross-legged on a dusty school floor being shaped and pushed and permitted to be and say what I felt and dreamed and there was no better gift than this.

* this was actually taken in the football field during an English Writing class for my stint as the school poetry magazine editor

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  1. This picture of you could have been taken yesterday...Do you not age. Of course you don't..put that on your resume.

  2. Alanna Rusnak..Never aging angel.

  3. aidan hennebryApril 09, 2011

    Completely agree with Amy on this one.

  4. Alanna Rusnak, Immortal


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