Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Lighthouse Keeper

  Lately, I've been thinking about this poem that was written back in college, not by me, but by a good friend of mine, Jaye. I'm going to put it here in its entirety because it matters to know what it's about, and it's good words. (formatting is mine)

I am the Lighthouse Keeper.
I live in the Lighthouse, 
Cold, Alone and Waiting
Waiting for the ships to return.

I am the only one left who remembers
when those ships were in port.

One by one they left
Different destinations
But all away from here

Here I stay Here I stand Waiting

I have the list of the names of those ships
I kept tabs on their destinations

I am proud of those boats
I am proud of their journeys
Some traveled across the sevens seas
And carry the circus to towns
One is now private and hosts parties for
the best of Broadway
Some now show other boats 
how to move
Some still wander searching what to do

Some have been updated
Some have been destroyed
I swear one day they'll all come back
That's why I can not leave
For some one must be here
To make sure they're safe,
they're happy, they're proud

For although this boat doesn't leave
and this boat is now rusted
And all the others don't stop moving
And never get rust

I love each and every one
And I will wait for them
right here
For some are destined for greatness
Some find it by chance
Some help others make it
And one must stay behind
One must keep the light on 
So the others can find their way home

So they can come back
enjoy their time together
remember old times
catch up on what's been happening

And hopefully they won't stay
"That poor guy, stuck here all this time,
all these years"
Hopefully they'll thank me
for keeping the lighthouse on.

For I am the Lighthouse Keeper

I've been thinking a lot about this poem lately, which was written probably close to twenty years ago.  

I've been thinking about this poem lately because I've been in my profession for 20 years. I've been working as an English teacher at Stagg High School for 19 years. I have watched people come and go my entire life, and here I sit, hanging on, hoping others will come back to me someday, just to say hi.

I'm not a favorite teacher very often, but I know that I'm liked. I had a student today tell me that I'm his favorite teacher because I try to relate to my students. I said thank you, and he laughed and said "No, I'm really serious. Like-- you try to listen to us!", and I can't imagine being a teacher who doesn't listen to their students and let them talk to you. But, I am here - being a teacher. 

I've been thinking about this poem lately because I am here in Stockton, and I don't see me really going anywhere. In spite of the moniker of "Most Miserable City" (Thanks Forbes), and "Murder Capitol" (which I don't think we are) I love my city. I love its diversity. The diversity of the people, the diversity of the opinions, but especially the diversity in restaurants. I can go 4 blocks in any direction from where I am and find Indian food, a few sushi places, a poke salad place, a few Italian restaurants, a decent(ish) diner, a mom and pop hot dog store and even a Panera.  On my drive home from work there is quite a diversity of food - even if I need to cook at home more often.

I've been here in this apartment for the last ten years. It's the longest I've ever lived in one place in my entire life, but I've (almost) always lived in Stockton, and the neighborhood I'm in now is wonderful. Maybe not the quietest all the time, but a good apartment, the people are friendly and the noisiest it gets is around the 4th of July. The walk around the complex is a quarter mile track, the leaves are just beginning to turn brown and the sparse lawn between the buildings 

I've been thinking about this poem lately because I feel like the Lighthouse Keeper of the poem, I have watched everybody move away and wander to find their destiny. My students, my friends, my lovers. They all go off to find their fortune in the world, and I watch them, and wish for the best for them in everything, hoping that once in a while they look back with fondness on me and maybe think to say "Hi" once in a while, knowing that I think of them fondly. 

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