So you probably remember Samson if you've been reading a long time. He works for the Carnivale where I'm just a roustabout. You know, just a worker. Well, I'm going to keep his name but cut the allegory.
Samson, almost all the teachers, and many parents wanted to hire me to teach art at the school. The powers that be, Management, didn't want that to happen. I was hired once, verbally, no contract in front of me yet, but it was my job, and suddenly Management was calling for a do-over. So we did it over. We did it all crazily over. And someone else got the job.
I knew more than I should, all that "two things you never want to see made: law and sausages" kind of thing. School goes right into that list. Folks I thought were on my side weren't. And the biggest betrayal in my mind was Samson. His phone call to me telling me it wasn't mine? Probably the most insulting 5 minutes of my life. His reasons were flimsy and mostly shady. And I told him where he could stick those reasons. After that, I texted him while riding my bike back to my car, in tears, that I had always been on his side and it would have been nice to know he was on mine. His reply was thin and rehearsed. I had been smacked hard, and it took months for me to let it go.
As I started to try to figure out what might be my next move, how I could move on from this, where I would go, where my heart would finally find a place, how much of myself I could give to a new place someday, as I ruminated on all these huge questions, I focused my anger mostly on Samson. We had been friends. A simple whisper in my ear that it wasn't ever going to happen for me, I should withdraw my application, would have saved our friendship and focused my anger and disappointment solely on the school. But he kept silent and that's what made me angry. I had been on his side, solidly, and then he let that committee humiliate me when the decision was essentially already made. Wrath lay upon him and him alone. Silent wrath.
It took two months to breathe again--two months of his morning greeting to me being met with my silent anger. It took three months to talk to Samson at all again, and that was only in the context of Fiona's conflicts with a few boys at school. I met with Samson and his assistant. It actually went well in some ways. But I made it clear how very done I was with the school, and by association, with Samson. There was no turning back for me. I'd already made up my mind. And it hurt him. It surprised me, but it did.
I pulled Fiona out of school a week later. And having that first piece of the puzzle settled, I forgave him. I talked to him outside of school one morning, and then sent an email that evening. He wrote right back. It was nice to have that off my heart. I was still leaving and I was still done with that place and with him by association, but we were able to shake hands (via email, that is) and be ok.
Then two weeks later Samson resigned.
I sent him another email. I told him my kids would be headed elsewhere next year because in the end, I knew they were safe with him at the lead and without him there, it felt far more risky. He wrote right back again. How much that meant to him. How much I did, my family did.
That was yesterday. A week of watershed moments. My life is always like this. There must be some reason. Today, I visited my cousin and brought home some sinfully ugly plaid fabrics that belonged to my grandmother. My cousin lives over by the park, and I turned to get out of the neighborhood in the gloom of this drizzly February evening. As I stopped at an inevitable St. Louis 4-way stop, I caught a glimpse of someone headed towards my car. Fiona recognized him. It was Samson. He knew my car already and was headed towards me to flag me down.
I stopped the car and rolled down the window. He told me how he was. What his plans were. How much he appreciated my words. He kept touching my arm. I saw a year and a half fall away from him. He looked so happy to talk to me. And seeing it on his face I realized how happy I was to see him too.
If that scene was written into a novel I wouldn't have believed it. It's ridiculous that I would run into him by random chance on such a day after so much history and drawing to a close the anger and resentment and then there we are, Billy calling out his name and Daisy waving at him and he touches my shoulder like he can't believe I'm really talking to him, that I'm really done being so terrible, that I've forgiven him. As if I could not have run into him until we were both done with that school and had both made peace with each other, however tenuously, and then suddenly all that came together and I make a wrong turn heading home after staying too long at my cousin's and there the scene plays out.
Until I consider that my aunt's death in the fall was the focus of the last time Samson and I were nice to each other, when I wound up in tears because I'd forgotten Daisy's birthday in this weird grief I wasn't even expecting. It was the last time we talked that wasn't his lame excuses and my spite-filled tongue lashing.
So I touch base with my aunt again via unfinished quilts and folded fabrics stored in lemon and orange boxes marked with Ozark Airlines freight tags, with her daughter, being a sounding board, making suggestions and laughing a bit with her, our kids playing together, my heart completely focused in another direction. And thus the first time I meet up with my family after the funeral and make connections to my aunt is the same evening Samson and I put all that noise behind us.
Thank you Paula.