Today was a great thrill. I found my Freshman High School English Teacher, Mr. Batcho. This was the man who made me love literature. He was the one who, when we were 15, had us read The Stranger. That was the first day of the first class in High School. Next was The Collector. Next was A Single Pebble. He never let us write a thing in class or at home.
We had to be there early each morning and write whatever we had in these little blue books. I don’t remember much else of high school because after that, I knew that someone my life had to be involved with books. With writing. We talked for a bit. I remember that we was leaving teaching to go sail up the Yangtza river before they damned it up. I had always wondered if he ever did that and today I found out that indeed he had.
I thanked him over and over again for giving me the love of reading and writing, and that his lessons had stayed in my soul. His voice sounded exactly the same. Even the way he ended some of his sentences with “man”. He talked about how he had biked through Paris in the 50s – his time in the Korean War – and about what his granddaughter was up to.
He told me about the shakespeare classes he was taking even today! Amazing. He was such a huge part of my life and I let him know that each word I write is because, in some ways, because of him. The way he taught us, the passion he instilled in us to push and get out of our comfort zone. To fail and learn from that. We all have that one teacher who meant that us- and it’s important I think to find them and let them know how much they meant. How much their lives changed our lives.
I talked to him a bit about my writing and what I was doing and that he had inspired so much of that. It was incredible to connect to that person who, in my brain, still stands for everything that I love about writing, literature, and the connection that people have with books.
More than that, it was the time to say thank you. Over and over again. Truly.