I had just finished my first year teaching in New Orleans. Sometime in the last month of the school year, the one teacher at my school who wasn’t a brand new teacher had thrust an application at me, saying, “You really need to sign up for this.” It was a month-long teacher workshop about Louisiana wetlands – their geology, ecology, and more. They would pay us (!) and we would get a stipend to purchase equipment for our classroom! But I had to fill out a giant application, get letters of recommendation and update my resume. And the application said that they would give preference to teams of teachers from the same school. Well, I was the only science teacher at my school so I was the “team”.
Somehow, amidst all of the other chaos of finishing a school year, I completed the paperwork and turned in my application. Lo and behold, I was accepted! The first day, in early July eighteen years ago, I entered the classroom and had a seat. Not long after that, a guy with glasses and grey/blond (mostly grey) hair and shorts and purple high-top Chuck Taylors walked in. I remember thinking to myself, “What’s that geezer trying to prove in his purple Chucks?” Little did I know! He wasn’t that much older actually – in his 30s and I was in my 20s – I guess it was the hair. I tell him he’s lucky he met me when he was still in his 30s – had he been in his 40s I might have written him off!
The class began. We were discussing factors that would affect the rate of flow of the Mississippi River. I still remember the first word I heard him say- “Viscosity.” He now tells that story to his students when he teaches them the word in physics. So silly. We ended up placed in the same group while we tested the speed of different sized particles in a tall column of water. He offered to be the recorder because he didn’t want the female in the group to be stuck recording the data, as so often happens. Turns out that he was thoughtful and funny! Oh, and such a great voice!
At the time, we were both otherwise involved romantically. But from that first day, there was some kind of electric connection. On the second day the class met at a school out in the middle of nowhere, and neither of us had brought lunch. We ended up going to a gas station convenience store together and laughing about assembling lunches from the local selection of cheese crackers and honey buns.
I was so excited to have a friend I could talk about science with! And oh, he made me laugh. By day two we weren’t in the same group anymore – they had rearranged us – but we still managed to chat quite a bit. I remember reading our final projects to each other over the phone – they weren’t required to be funny, but his was hysterical – I was on the floor laughing! I didn’t know it at the time, but it was a good sign.
He likes to tell the story of the time we paired up to work on a computer hurricane simulation activity and there weren’t enough chairs by the computers. He makes a point of noting who ended up sitting on the floor (him) and how he should have known right at that time what that would mean for the relationship! He teases. Truly, we have a pretty incredible partnership.
By Labor Day, we realized that we had something romantic going on. That weekend, I insisted that we clear up our other relationships before seeing each other again. By the end of October, we were a couple. By December we were talking about marriage, and in April we were engaged. We were married the following April. So we celebrate two anniversaries – Labor Day weekend and the first weekend of Jazz Fest in April.
Just the other day we were talking about how we each found out about that summer program – he almost didn’t apply for it because he couldn’t get a group together from his school either. We’re not convinced we would have met each other otherwise – at the time he was teaching in a Catholic school, I was in public school – our circles really didn’t overlap. Funny how things work out.