I was born in Hollister California, grew up in Hart Michigan, moved to Bend Oregon when I was 18 and found myself in Tempe Arizona at 22. Moving to a different state was always an adventure for me, and a learning experience.
This time I was married and we were about to celebrate our first wedding anniversary in a new home. We quickly unloaded the rental truck in the scorching heat and then celebrated by having dinner over a cardboard box with paper plates and plastic wear.
After getting settled in, Joe went off to school and I went off to look for work.
I landed a job as a bank secretary right away, and was thrilled to be part of the working class again. My boss would call me into his office to dictate letters and then I’d head back to my IBM Selectric and type away.
I had come a long way from the small town waitress and was proud to be working for the head loan officer of a bank. But it took exactly two days before I got a different kind of call into his office.
I sat down and my boss asked me if I knew how to spell.
I could feel my face flush as I sank in my chair and weakly said yes. All of my pride left me as he handed back my typed letter. I glanced over it and didn’t have a clue what he was talking about, but pretended I did as I nervously headed back to my desk.
It took me a while, but after looking at each word individually, I could see my mistakes and I was embarrassed someone else had too. I’d hidden the fact that I was dyslexic from everyone I knew, even myself. I was so self-conscious about it, I pretended it wasn’t true.
Growing up it was easy to get lost in the crowd at home, with no one paying attention to the fact that I wasn’t reading. It was also easy to skate past the teachers at school.
Until the 8th grade that is. My English teacher was the first one to call me out on not reading. And she was the first teacher who understood why.
I remember being petrified that I’d have to read ten books, and do a book report for each. Luckily, my teacher knew how to help me. After showing me how to track each word, she also saw that I was a very slow reader.
I love her for recognizing that and assigning me one book for the entire year. But when she handed me the book, my heart sank. How was I ever going to be able to read all one thousand pages of Gone With the Wind? She assured me I could do it, and that I had nine months to finish it, which I’m proud to say I did.
I remembered her advice for reading and applied it to typing. My kind boss didn’t say another word about that typed letter, but I will never forget how I felt that day in his office.
My life in Arizona brought many other lessons, and I learned there are a lot of teachers in the world. But my English teacher, and Gone With the Wind, taught me while I may not be a fast reader, I am a good reader and always will be.