Friday, June 4, 2010


“Drink up!” he said. “Salude!” My temple was aching slightly from the two glasses of tangy, red Spanish wine I had drank prior to this one. I took one small swallow, but not all of it.
     “Salude! Finish it,” Elias encouraged me. Not wanting to disappoint him, I swigged the last of it finally. Elias smiled as he took my glass.
“You just became Basque!”
     That’s how I’ll always remember Elias Corbitarte. I only met him a few times, but he treated me like a long lost friend. Maybe it was because he was Basque or maybe it was because he was a special person; I think it was both. I regret that I didn’t get to know him better. I am thankful I had the opportunity to meet him. Our brief friendship reminds me to appreciate each person I know. So often, we take each other for granted. I guess we have to operate that way. If we truly tried to live each day as if it were our last, we’d drive ourselves and everyone around us nuts. Perhaps the lesson is to live your best life, every day you can. I’m pretty sure Elias did that.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


When I was a gangly, awkward junior high kid, I had a teacher whom I’ll never forget. She taught me so much more than history, probably without even knowing it. Mrs. Robertson was easily the smallest person I’ve ever met. A bird-like woman with ebony skin and long plaited hair, she teetered around the classroom on four inch heels no ordinary person could have maneuvered. She would shout our last names like a tiny drill sergeant, as if sounding big would make her bigger. We hated her from the beginning.

My friend and I entertained ourselves by passing notes in class. One day I wrote some very cruel things about Mrs. Robertson in a note and my friend accidentally dropped it on the floor as we were leaving class. Mrs. Robertson stalked the class on her clicking heels the next day, shouting my last name and the last name of another Lisa. (There were two Lisas in the class, so she didn’t know for sure which one of us had written the note.) She challenged “If you have something to say about me, say it to my face.” She demanded the guilty Lisa come retrieve the note from her desk in front of everyone. I looked at the other Lisa. She looked at me. My horror froze me to my seat. Neither one of us moved.

Mrs. Robertson must have known. How could she not see it all over my face? But she let it go. I never wrote notes in her class again and she never spoke of it again. As the school year went by, I actually came to think of her as a friend. When I think how she must have felt when she read my hateful slurs, I still cringe inside. If I could go back and ask the forgiveness of just one person I’ve wronged in my life, it would be her. And I feel quite certain her answer would be “I already did.”