March 1st: Part One

On March 1st, twelve of the girls in the elementary education program spent the day in the home of one of our dear professors. We left school too early on a Saturday, and spent the day playing educational games, eating delicious treats, and enjoying the company of our hosts and one another. It took two hours to drive home through standstill Chicago traffic in a blizzard, but March 1st was one of my favorite days of the semester, and a memory I’m still captivated by. This is Part One of the response paper I submitted after our adventure.

The snow.
The snow is piled on either side of the driveway. Uneven, sloping piles. I pull between them, inch towards the garage door, park. This home, this little town, is not what I expected; the house stands alone on the corner, set apart, yet warmly indifferent to its own separation. There is snow in the city, as well; black, gravel-filled spires of frozen precipitation lining the streets, narrowing the sidewalks. Here, the snow is still white, laying sofly across spacious lawns, draped seamlessly over front yard bushes, trees. Here, the snow is white and the air is still, quiet. The peace is heavy, bright. It’s almost disorienting.

The turkey.
Timeline, the game is called. We sit, four of us, around the card table. The cards are small when they’re dumped out of the metal tin, onto the table; they remind me of Ticket to Ride cards. The rule book- more of a pamphlet, really- falls out of the tin, too, and I pick it up, unfold it. This game is unfamiliar and I want to understand, I want to be able to play. Six cards each, it’s a simple game, although a challenging one. I learned every date in Christianity and Western Culture 1, completely aced Christianity and Western Culture 2, but now there are six world events in front of me, lined askew on the edge of the card table, and I feel my eyes squint as I wrack my brain for the right answer; surely I know the right answer, right?

I’m wrong on my first turn. Hands flat on the table, I split the growing timeline, separate a blank between two events, tentatively flip my own card into the open space. Nope. Wrong. Not even close. I discard that one, draw another. Six cards still in front of me.

We play Timeline twice, and I lose both rounds. The one with the most cards left. Wrong. But this game, this simple plot, these few rules, they’re motivating me. I want to know the answers. I don’t want to know to win now, I want to know because knowledge has value. Knowledge is relevant. The beginning of the 100 Years War, the invention of glass, The first Woodstock; history has stages and eras and wars and riots and inventions, but it’s all one story: the story of the world. I want to know the story. Know it to teach well. Know it to find my place in the legacy of things said, and done, changes made, feats accomplished. Know it because someone, someday, might ask we when the turkey became a thing, and I will give them an answer. The right answer.

The baby.
There’s a picture of her and her brother, pinned to a board outside of an office in an academic building in a big city. There’s a picture, but real life is better. In real life, she’s small, as two year old children often are, her baby-fine hair trimmed in bangs that frame gentle almond eyes. In real life, she sits on my lap as I play Timeline, miniature hands wrapped around the discarded card I’ve given her to hold. In real life, she’s vibrant, active, engaging. In real life, she smells like baby shampoo and fruit juice.

The States.
Explaining the game, the Professor pauses, searching for a word. He’s making a comparison, an analogy, to clarify this game, a card game of the United States. He alludes to an alternate title, one he’ll not say. It’s like Cheat, he says, after a moment. I nod, then, understanding. My mother doesn’t like that game’s title either.



2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: March 1st: Part Two | Lead Me Where
  2. Trackback: March 1st: Part Three | Lead Me Where

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