Without a Trace(y)
Today I want to tell you about one of my biggest cheerleaders, my calming & reassuring mama bear, my safe place in my fuzzy painful school world.
Ms. Airhart took over old “refrigerator box” lady as my TVI (teacher of the visually impaired) when I was in 2nd grade (there are 2 stories right there for later. ). In the middle of middle school- I went for my Braille lesson & Ms. Airhart was not there... a new lady was on the blind kid scene at my school. It was at 1st unsettling because for 5 years I had the same teacher. But I quickly was smitten by the new kid’s big smile & even bigger hugs.
My family pokes a little fun at me because I am a metaphor-mixer & chronic nicknamer. Remembering names used to be very very hard for me... I had no visual associations- so I guess I just saved the brain space where names live for other stuff. I almost always roll my 1 ‘good’ eye at my mom when she brings up the conversation on the car ride home after my 2nd Braille lesson w my new teacher. (She even sold me out on Facebook.) I got in the car & she asked what happened in Braille. I answered “It was great! I’m gonna love Tupac Calhoun!”
OK- her name is Tracey Colburn. But she is amazing in so many ways! From the practical: making sure my light filters & hall markers are up & teachers have my special paper & keeping my iPad in working order. To advocating: talking to a few who won’t accommodate, going to explain my situation to people who don’t understand & helping me word things when I am frustrated. She is great at figuring things out with a way of reassuring me that we can get it done- whether the requirements for a blind kid to take an AP Physics test Jr. year or plowing through NEMETH (Braille code for math & scientific notation) **can you hear us both groaning right now??**
Tracey cheers me on with what people might think are my crazy ideas. Marching in the Macy’s parade while spinning a flag? “I am so proud of you! Here is a bag full of journals & art supplies for NYC so you can take it all in & keepsake it too.” Blind kid starting a business commissioning paintings? “Go for it!! I will take 3 paintings (at least) You have artistic free reign. Oh- & I will actually change my decorating colors based on what you come up with.”
That’s my Tracey. She soothes me. She encourages me. She fights for me. She understands me. She believes in me. And I love her.
What am I going to do without you next year?
PS- I started this painting over 3 times because I wanted it to be perfect for you.