neon : wings

You are late. His photographic memory was of a Detroit that no longer resembles the Detroit of today, and the library is closed. There is no parking, and you are achingly aware that you are late. You are failing before you can even walk in the building, and the horrific sensation of falling is claiming your stomach even as you walk toward your classroom.

You have a classroom. That'll be one square inch of stomach lining, please.

You are out of time, and you have fourteen students. They look at you with this expectant look. You flash the smile that gets you kindnesses from strangers, knowing full well this smile must somehow last for eight hours, and you reach in your camera bag for your laptop.

The car crash begins there.  You have over-planned, and you are about to pay for it.

You set your laptop on the lectern, mentally rehearsing how you'll start, and you realize with horror that the supplies you are counting on are missing. Your cable adapter and laser pointer are missing; your phone will not work as a Keynote remote due to lack of wi-fi.  You have walked into your worst nightmare: you are not just the unprepared student, you are the unprepared teacher, and you have eight hours to fill with apologies.

You have nothing, except the small notebook full of panicked scribbles from the night before. You look down and it is Adam's voice in your head: do not read from your notes. Put down your notes and do the most terrifying thing you could possibly do:

Look them in the eye.  All of them. In sequence. Ask yourself if this student intimidates you. No? Go to the next one. You have already fallen off the cliff, why not splat with style? You toss the rental car keys to Cary, who despite the fact he cannot legally drive the car, heads to the hotel room to pick up what you've left, and you start asking questions.

You take a deep breath and suddenly, out of nowhere, wings unfurl. You did not remember packing them but they are there all the same. You realize you are pacing the room, gesturing with your hands, asking questions, pulling stories, demonstrating. You have no notes, no screenshots, no safety net, and no way out -- and you are swinging for the cheap seats like there's no flight to Minneapolis tomorrow night.

Cary returns two hours later with a sheepish apology.  He leans down from six-foot-four to five-foot-one and whispers in your ear, "I have broken some sort of a rule." Your wings pause, beat, beat, beat, and you ask what he means.

"I never did find my belt this morning, and I noticed your jeans on the bed had a stretch fabric belt in the loops. I borrowed it. I hope that's okay."

You laugh. It feels like breeze in feathers. You tell him you'll take the belt back at the end of the day, and you turn back to your students. You're committed now; you're lecturing from memory, without aids or notes, and you're calling out directions based on the tasks you do every morning, and somehow the thought of a strange California man sitting in the back of the room wearing a belt you didn't offer him seems perfectly normal.

When the laptop is finally hooked up, you actually debate whether or not you should even use it.