Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Monsters and Heroes

I wanted to bring this line up in class last time, but it didn't seem to follow and threads brought about in class discussion but I think it is an extraordinarily powerful line. I know it is in the first half of the book but, "All acts are connected. For every monster there is a hero. For every hero, a monster."

I was excited to have a simple connection between my service experiences and the readings, especially evident because I do homework help at St. Mary's Tuesdays before I blog. It was beautiful today, and because of my experience with travel lit last semester I prefer to walk to service whenever time allows. Today, I walked with no jacket for the first time. It makes me feel as though Loyola, myself, and the Govans community at York road have more of a connection. The shuttle picks up students near the student center and drops them off at the school.

I call it the Loyola pod, it's one of the many ways in which Loyola distinguishes itself from the community bordering the East side of campus. We have a connection to St. Mary's, but are unrecognized by everything in between. Sydney, my cynical, silent, overjoyed, loudmouth (yes I meant every word) second grader was particularly solemn after the excited hug she gave me when I walked in. I don't think I'll every figure out why she loves to see me but hates to speak, but I pried, just because I want her to know that I refuse to give up on being chit chat buddies. I made fun if her a little, she cracked a smile, I let her make fun of me (she's pretty good at that) and finally the table started talking about the weather. That is everyone except the new tutor who sort of creeped everyone out, me included.

I force-included Syd in the conversation by asking her if she thought it was pretty out or not, or if she liked to play outside something trivial like that and she responded by saying that it was beautiful, and she liked to be outside but it made the "ugly people come out too". I searched her face for the mischievous little smirk she makes when she makes fun of one of her classmates, but there was nothing. I was forced to sit there and wonder for the next hour or so what ugly was supposed to mean in the mind of a second grader.

Most of the children walk home from school after their various extracurricular activities. Maybe ugly was her way of saying monsters. on both the way there and on the way back I passed quite an eclectic group of people, much more than I have passed before as it was cold the last few weeks. Not all bad, that is for sure, but here on the road where eight, nine, ten year-olds walk are shattered bottles at the feet of passed out men and women. Wild eyes men asking for change, or trying to sell their day- pass to the bus. There are two groups of teenagers telling war stories from the weekend. A kid no older than twelve was screaming at his sister and yanking her head around by her hair because she didn't come quick enough when she called. Two grown, women with liquor bottles kissed each other on the bench near the bus stop. Who are her monsters, who are the ugly people?

Then I started thinking about the heroes their teachers, some of them have wonderful parents, the girls that work in the office. I wonder if she knows her heroes... and then I stared thinking about myself. I am graduating soon, and so carry with me the constant anxiety of entering a world outside of both my home and the Loyola bubble without an idea of what I actually want to do with my life. I do know I want to be a hero. In a binary oppositional state of thinking, I know for sure I don't want to be a monster. I was oddly uncomfortable walking back onto campus, my safety, my security, the definite because I know it is ending. Back down the street, for an hour every week, and whatever other service I do I get to play hero for a little while, here I'm scared, I'm unsure, I'm one in three thousand.

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