In May, my wife and I will travel to Delaware to see our adopted son graduate college. He's not really our adopted son, in the legal sense. In 2012, my wife and I were living in Philadelphia. She finished her Masters Degree in Education, I was working at a large beer distributor. The path as an educator in a city like Philly is tough. It's not the cushy union job that we hear so much about. It's a thankless, endless grind where teachers are disadvantaged against students with no support. Teaching there nearly broke my wife. So she got out. She floated a while, doing different jobs in and around teaching, but not actually teaching. She tutored kids and worked in day care.
One day she got offered a job as a long term substitute teacher of high school science in a county outside of Philly. Her teaching experience in Philly burned her pretty bad. This school was still in a rough neighborhood, a poor one, and one that struggled with drugs and addiction. It was a long commute. An hour and half on the train. But she loves to teach. So she took it.
That's where she met our adopted son, Louis. Louis was in and out of foster homes. His parents were drug addicts. He struggled with anxiety and learning challenges, like dyslexia, and he wound up in my wife's class. It was lucky for both of them. Because my wife is a devoted educator, she spent hours after school helping Louis, and everyday he would ask my wife if she would adopt him. So we did, kind of.
My wife helped Lewis through his junior and senior year. She tutored him for his ACTs, worked with the school to make him a football highlight tape. Suddenly Louis is calling me on my cell, checking directions for his road trip to visit colleges.
He got several offers with financial aid and picked one that would let him play ball. At his high school graduation party we talked about college schedules. That year my wife and I moved out of Philly and back home. Louis went to the same college as his high school girlfriend. He lived with their family and they supported him. His girlfriend’s mom would send my wife notes and emails on how he was doing. Sometimes the anxiety was tough on him.
One day Louis sent us a pic of an old sports car he bought. He was working as a gym trainer, while focusing on his own physical and mental health. He earned it.
“Tell him I said to make sure he changes the oil in it,” I said.
“He says ‘Yes Sir.’” my wife said.
He's a good kid. Sometimes we wouldn't hear much. My wife would worry about him struggling or falling on the wrong path. Then she'd see a Snapchat video of him doing something dumb or rebellious and get nervous.
“Tell him I said to cut the shit,” I told her. She would.
“He says he was just joking around.”
“He better have been.”
In May he gets his degree. He's already been hired as an occupational therapist. He wanted us to be there, at the graduation. They grow up fast. Everyday I hear the whining of privileged brats telling us how tough the world is. Yet with every disadvantage, this kid finds a way. He earned every bit of it, and let us be a part of it. As for my wife, her obligation as a teacher was done when he graduated, yet here we are, four years later. It's just who she is.
A month ago, my wife showed me a video and it was of Louis giving an inspirational speech at his old high school. The same high school where my wife taught him. He says something like “Just because I have bad days doesn't mean I have a bad life.” He's so God damn smart. He already knows everything.
Like, IDK, I thought it would taste more like corn,” said David Jenkinson, a Seattle native and Starbucks fan while driving through Iowa on his way to Coachella. He went on to report that while the staff was super friendly, their lack of tattoos or piercings made his Des Moines Starbucks experience seem “less genuine.”
“And they let me use the bathroom for free! They have a customer for life, if I ever come through here again.”
If the New York Times opened a field bureau in middle America, this is what would make the news.
Just a gaggle of people from all over who have similar interests and loud opinions mixed with a dose of humor. We met on Twitter.