Last year’s Friday the 13this this year’s Saturday the 13thand indeed, bad luck seems to be inching towards good luck. For it was one year ago today that I taught my last live class in my 45-year career at The San Francisco School. Today I’m twice vaccinated, the world is slowly and cautiously re-opening (well, not Texas or Florida) and I’m teaching a Zoom Jazz workshops to some 50 people and happily, many of them new to my work.
One year anniversary. Not the cake and flowers kind and knowing of the 500,000 plus Americans who have died from Covid and some 2 million more worldwide, it would be bad taste to celebrate surviving the pandemic. But nevertheless, a bit of hope the way this current administration is handling this so professionally, with so much competence and caring and a barrel-full of shame knowing what a horrible, horrible job the other guy did, crowing about full churches at Easter (last year!) and his life-long habit of denying any reality that doesn’t suit his taste or needs—and more shamefully, the Repugniticans and voters who continued to support his taste for dangerous lies—causing such havoc, some of which was avoidable.
I’m imagining St. Peter with a trap door straight to Hell conducting his short-form interview: “Trump— yes or no? Whoosh! Down you go. And hey, Satan, turn up the heat a bit to get the attention of these cold-hearted bastards.” And so it should continue for all those continuing to vote no for Covid relief and unbelievably—in a time when nothing seemed unbelievable anymore—stillsupporting the guy after he sent the rioters in to almost kill them, to chant “Hang Mike Pence!”, after he cannot Tweet his vicious attacks on anyone who doesn’t lick his boots and kiss his sorry ass. Who are these people?
Woah! That was a surprise. Mostly so happy not to see his orange face and listen to his hate speech, but the damage he did and the complicity of far, far too many fellow Americans still has the capacity to call up my outrage. Okay, a few deep breaths, breaths I can take because I followed mask guidelines, respected social distance and got my second vaccination.
Thought I would write about my personal grief of that last class at The San Francisco School coming prematurely and no chance to play the last chords of that symphonic work as I always imagined them. It was a good last day, as I remember. Taught 6thgraders an old “greatest hits’ piece—Mango Walk—that I first taught in the 1980’s. Worked on Miles’ All Blues with one 8thgrade class and Duke’s Perdido(written by Juan Tizol) to the other. Had my usual fun with the 5 year olds dancing the Grand March, made more amusing by balancing beanbags on our heads. Then “the beanbag” game that is designed to nurture compassion (a story for another time). Singing Time was four optimistic Jazz Songs— High Hopes, Pick Yourself Up, The Sunnyside of the Street and the school “anthem”—Side by Side. I taught Table Rhythms to 4thgrade, worked on some Charleston steps and then dismissed class early to go play “knockout” on the basketball court—and I won one of the games! Then I wrote in my planning book:
“And so the quarantine begins. Heaven help us all!”
None of us could have imagined a year (and more). And yet here we are.
Looking back, it was about as good a last day as I might have wished for. And off I go today, still teaching as I can in a gridded form of being “Side by Side.” We picked ourselves up, did our best to walk on the sunny side of the street and kept up our high hopes, given muscle at the voting booth. Let’s hope that this year next time, we’ll all be gathered live with new hearts and minds and gratitudes and determinations. Onward!