Natalie Garro, 129 YinD
I open the front door. Not the gate, just the door. I exist. I drink instant coffee with milk and honey and pretend I’m not pretending to miss real coffee, which I rarely used to drink anyway.
Last night’s insomnia is still sketched onto my legs, canvass for the images keeping me up past my bedtime. I text Eric and tell him we’re going to meditate tomorrow (which we don’t do).
Every day, I wake up at 5:20 a.m., because it takes me at least two hours to mentally prepare myself for other people. Everyone smiles and waves “Good morning,” on my walk to school, and I remember I am safe.
Every morning, I dread speaking at the morning assembly, which I do anyway; I glow with pride as my students respond to my English prompts. I remember I am safe. And joyful.
My co-teacher comes in agitated. I remind myself I’ve done nothing to upset her. I greet her, and she smiles. She tells me she was up until 2 a.m. with the students for marching practice. I remember I am safe. And rested.
Teacher Boy makes a joke at my expense. I tell myself I am doing the best I can. I go along with it. Everyone laughs, and the other teachers scold Teacher Boy. I remember I am safe. And appreciated.
The students are looking at me and laughing between swift quips in Issan. I remind myself they’re probably not laughing at me. They smile and shout, “Good morning, Teacher!” I remember I am safe. And I belong.
Some third graders see me. They charge me, little feet tumbling over pavement like water from a bursting dam, little voices calling, “Kru Natalie, Kru Natalie!” I smile. They wrap their little arms around me. “Good morning!” we say. They take both my hands and walk me to the office. I remember I am safe. And loved.