An Excerpt From A Book I Should Be Writing: End of the School Year 2010

Jose Vilson Jose

Usually, my iPod tells me everything I need to know. When I first started teaching, my iPod would serenade me with Duran Duran’s “Ordinary World” while I napped from Dyckman St. to West 4th St., a 30-minute train ride on the A. If I spent the whole night stewing over some ridiculous comments by an administrator, my iPod would play Prodigy’s “Firestarter” just to kick up my adrenaline. Granted, with over 1000 songs on my iPod and from various collections, none of these went on repeat. It’s just curious that the music I listened to set my mood.

That’s why I found it interesting when I turned on my iPod on the train and found The Verve’s “Bittersweet Symphony,” followed by Kool and the Gang’s “Summer Madness” blaring through my earphones. After such an emotionally charged afternoon full of tears and joviality, I needed someone to sympathize or empathize. At that moment, no one could. I couldn’t argue whether it was the nature of the people who reached out or the business of education creeping more evidently in the hearts and minds of those closest to me. The music would have to suffice for that long ride back home.

After The Verve’s violin-induced cry for normalcy, Kool and the Gang’s ode to summer reminded me how much I had to be thankful for. The summer promised beautiful and spacious airports, warm weather, more unbuttoned collared shirts, less ties, great concerts, the Yankees playing great baseball, and my first name used over and again. I’d given so much of myself to ensure the graduation of so many students, many of whom weren’t technically mine, that it was time I remembered myself. The pile of clothes in my room needs tending to, that hypothetical book every writer wants to write is still hidden somewhere between my brain and my fingers, and I haven’t lifted a barbell in a long while.

In the midst of focusing on Mr. Vilson and his success, I forgot about Jose, and his obvious needs and flaws. I’d never been an empty cup until the week of graduation. Now, I get to refill.

Jose, who loves that his earlier alum still refer to him as Mr. Vilson …