March 1st: Part Two

In case you missed it, you can find Part One of this school report turned blog post here.

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.

But this is a different game, one of geography and maps and sometimes a little guessing, and maybe a little improvising, hoping the others don’t catch on, aren’t paying attention. The baby having slid off my lap, off to play, and we’re four again around the card table, taking turns laying down states, oceans, even one card reading CANADA across the top.

Fourth grade, maybe fifth, I knew these states well. Trading roles, I was the teacher, my mother was the student. Map of the United States printed blank, state outlines unlabeled, I tested her. She wrote the state names, their capitals. She wrote, I corrected. Red pencil borrowed from my professor-father’s desk, I marked the maps, corrected them, learned them. Now it’s twelve years later and my eyes are closed, I’m scrambling to see that map in my mind. Does Georgia touch South Carolina? Does it touch the Gulf of Mexico? How many states does Utah border? I learned in fourth grade, sitting cross legged at the dining table, red pencil in hand. And I’m learning now; a mix and match, guess and check kind of learning. Trying hard to remember what I used to know.

Tea and cookies.
He appears in the doorway as we play, brandishing a white tea pot in the air like some medieval banner: Under this hot beverage, I will conquer! But he’s talking about the traditional way of making tea, waving his free hand towards the table behind us, under the window. Outside, the snow is cold and white, lining the windowsill, covering the yard, falling now in fresh, fat flakes. Inside, there are cups and matching saucers, a plate of cookies, still warm. He tells us about tea leaves and milk in first and sugar to taste, and we watch the dark tea swirl lighter, sip the hot liquid. The United States spread before me still, cards waiting to be matched, played, I sip my tea, dip my cookie in it when no one is looking. Later, sitting on the living room couch, he says cultural experience, and there’s a kind of worth in that. He cares to bake for us, he cares to prepare for us. He cares to share his tea with us.

He cares.



1 Comment (+add yours?)

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

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