When you meet someone for the first time there’s a universal understanding that you don’t discuss religion or politics. That rule was quickly tossed aside when Shaley and I met. “I have no ability not to talk about COVID or politics.”
We knew that these are hot button issues, topics that have added to the aggression in our country, and in her town of 11,000 people. A town in the very “red” state of Iowa, which Shaley has spent her whole life being “blue.”
Just before the pandemic, Shaley pressed pause on her career. She needed some time of quiet reflection. And thanks to COVID she had plenty of time to reflect. This has led her to rewrite her plan. “COVID could be a ripe opportunity for a huge sea change in education.” Setting aside the politics of this virus, we both see this as a time for kids to wrestle with real world problems in defining this time in their lives.
As a high school senior, Shaley discovered she could sing. She tried out for a performance at the local theater and landed a big role in a musical. It was there “Someone told me I had potential.” I might not sound like much, but to hear those words from adults helped Shaley develop both her voice, and her desire to help kids find theirs.
As a self-proclaimed introvert, Shaley spoke freely, confidently, and more important honestly about her life. Again, it’s her story and her tears. But here are a few things that will help you get to know her, and maybe even relate to her. For someone who grew up in a time and place where shooting riffles was a part of P.E. class, Shaley has never shot a crossbow. She’d be willing, but not at animals.
She also ate pizza for breakfast. It was left over from the day before when she and her husband watched football all day. And yes, she watches football because she enjoys spending time with her husband. “I never liked sports, but quarantining changed all that. Now I watch it religiously. I getting to know the player’s names and their stories.” I think Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs might also have something to do with her new found passion.
The last book she read, and highly suggests me to read next, was Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine, by Scottish author Gail Honeyman. It’s about “a social misfit with a traumatic past who becomes enamored of a singer, whom she believes she is destined to be with.” I suggested Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal. It’s a novel by Christopher Moore that seeks to fill in the details of those “lost years” of Jesus as remembered by his friend, “Levi bar Alphaeus who is called Biff.”
Two stories of misfits, shared by two misfits, from two different worlds. Shaley asked me if I had ever “run into people you wish you didn’t meet for this (KNOWvember)?” Like I told her, and as I discovered, everyone has a likeable quality. Which got us talking about something other than COVID or politics.
Mind you, Shaley is an educator. Someone who has taught English. She is the type of person you don’t want to hear her ask, “Who do you write your blog for?” In that moment, all I could think about where the red marks of a teacher’s pen correcting my grammar and spelling. In confessing it was really just for myself, like a diary of sorts, Shaley said “It feels like a rough draft.”
Had I been in high school, and she been my teacher, I think I would have gotten defensive (or more defensive in case I was and didn’t realize it). But Shaley is good at finding people’s potential and helping them see it in themselves as well. And it got me thinking. We are nothing more than rough drafts; constantly improving upon our story.
We all have scars, and wounds that can either lift us up or knock us down; some of us are “red” and some of us are “blue;” small town or big city; introvert or extrovert everyone has a likable quality. Shaley and I are no longer strangers. We are rough drafts in the throws of writing the greatest story ever told.