Prideful People

24 of October 2013

As I lay on my blue bed, head bobbing to The Kooks and the fan twisting the air lazily above, I must tell you that today was interesting. Well, that is an understatement: today was terrible. It began with promises of presenting the hurricane project we have been sweating over for weeks and ended with Carmen, the artes maestra, failing me in her class. That morning, as I finished my poster and was leaving her class, she called out to me that if I didn’t see my poster hanging up in the hallway later that day, it would mean that I failed her class. It was in that instant that I realized Carmen wasn’t going to put up my poster. There was something familiar about that moment, the chills that escalated up my arms and settled into the growling, savage pit of my stomach. Something cruel that I knew all too well, even sympathized with, was stirring under the skin of my teacher. She was going to knock me, and I knew it, yet I was powerless. The best piece of artwork in the class by a milestone wasn’t going to be displayed for the school to see on the well worn, plywood-walled balcony turned hallway of Papalote. So I did the only thing that seemed reasonable in that instant, I turned around and walked back to the door frame, stood rigid, and casually called out, “And what do you do with the artwork you don’t hang up?” In this way, I let her know that I understood that my painting wasn’t going to make her cut. Carmen responded that she keeps ahold of everyone’s artwork until December. I thanked her again, and confidently marched back to my classroom from the breathtaking artes room that had sentenced me to my artistic doom.

Near the end of the day, as the parents came to view the hurricane project presentations, I sat on the steps leading to the roof with a match behind either ear and the boys surrounding my with their Spanish chatter I’m understanding quite well. I imagined being hopelessly, irreversibly drunk, and laid in the arms of my boys, but unfortunately, imagining being able to do something that would clear the slate of my mind didn’t actually do the trick. As I lay, I was plagued by the one question I thought I already knew the answer to: Why didn’t Carmen hang up the best poster in the class? Now, I’ve failed two of my classes- an impressive record, though, for a gringa with a language barrier between her and the teachers, the conversation, and the education. Jim is proud of me for passing most of my classes, but it isn’t failing Carmen’s class that really bugs me.

I told Mum about Carmen failing me when I got home that day, and all Mum could ask was why Carmen would fail the best representation of art in her class. I was silent- for once- and Mum understood that Carmen’s reasons were irrelevant, even though I thought I knew them, and wanted to know them, desperately. The fact was that Carmen didn’t put my poster up. All day at school people commented, “Wow Maia, if she didn’t hang up the YOUR artwork, then, jeez, she must really, really, really hate you.” And suddenly, hatred between her and I became a possibility, but I’ll never take that road. Carmen is interesting to me, rogue, raw, and ruthless, and even if she does hate me (which I doubt), I’ll never hate her. I guess that’s because I understand that it isn’t really hatred between us: it’s pride.

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