When I hear the song “Mrs Robinson” by Simon & Garfunkel, my grade 7 Japanese teacher often come to mind. Okay, so let’s put things into perspective. It was my first year in high school, and back then it was a compulsory requirement to study a language and in my case it was Japanese. So how do I explain this story without sounding suspect? Either way people will jump to conclusions so here goes…
So as I was saying I had a Japanese teacher, needless to say my grade 7 class made her life a living nightmare. My grade was one of those pretty dysfunctional ones, full of little rough nuts from broken families. I blame it on the suburb. It was so easy for our parents to end up down the pub or take a shot of heroin then take up their parental responsibilities. Living in a place called Dapto, what more needs to be said? So back to Japanese. On a regular basis my fellow classmates would send Miss J to the border of a nervous breakdown by the end of each class. I once stabbed a kid with a compass in that class, but that’s a story for another time.
I remember one such day seeing Miss J in tears sitting in the classroom after one student had locked her the storeroom for duration of half the class. Having the reputation of the unpopular kid, I knew to the full extent how much of a pack of little Assholes my class could be. Being the caring little blonde haired 11 year old that I was, I couldn’t help but check up on her to make sure she was okay.
I guess Miss J was surprised that at least one of the students actually cared, and the two of us sat talking in that classroom for the entire lunch break that day. We spoke about Japan, movies, and she also had a huge passion for music. As the weeks passed it became a regular ritual that the two of us would spend our lunchbreaks together. I guess she found solace in talking to me while the rest of her co-workers stood in the staffroom bitching about the terrors that they would endure at the hands of high school students.
As I was saying earlier, she had a huge passion for music, and a lot of our lunchtime rendezvous would consist with her singing me songs. Call me strange, but looking back I remember listening transfixed by her beautiful voice. There was a time during the year that she took some of the kids in a higher grade for an exchange trip to Japan, and when she returned to my pleasant surprise she had brought back with her a few gifts for me.
I would say Miss J was probably one of the first adults that I actually had what I feel was a positive relationship with. Just as I would sit listening to her singing, she would sit equally transfixed as I would read her one of stories that I had been writing at the time. Some would say it was just two people exchanging their love of creativity with each other.
One day, that all changed. I noticed she seemed down one lunchtime and I remember asking if I could do something. She replied no, but she had something to tell me. I sat listening waiting to hear what was wrong, as the words left her lips, my heart sank. She was leaving. I asked why? She said that she was needed elsewhere, that I should not worry, and that I would be fine. She gave me a letter that was beautifully written full of encouragement in regards to following my dreams and staying true to myself. Also enclosed was a tape she had recorded of all my favourite songs she would sing me.
I remember that lunch break like it was yesterday. She gave me a big hug, a kiss on my forehead and said thank you for everything. That afternoon I walked into my house, my mother sat in the lounge room with a can of Jim Beam playing Tetris on the Nintendo, I went straight to my room and played her tape. The first song was Wind Beneath My Wings and I broke down crying.
A few days later, my Principal came up to me, and asked me about Miss J and what we would do during our lunchtimes. I told him we just spoke about school and stuff. For some reason I felt it was none of his business. Reflecting back on it now, some people might be quick to jump in and say the relationship I had with Miss J could be seen as highly inappropriate. For me I put it down to this, we were just two people who connected for short time and brought joy into each other’s lives.
I once wrote her letter, but for some reason didn’t get around to sending it. I never heard from Miss J again.