sometimes your actions echo and reach much much further than you may realize. Well I think that most of your actions cause somehow a snowball effect, only you might not be aware of it.
Here’s a story about someone that had much influence on my character in the past and is still very, very special to me. A story about someone, who used to be like a mother when I needed one most. A story of someone whom I call my person, the one that watched me grow up and stayed, even until today. Her name is M.
She used to be my teacher in grammar school. I was in love with her. She was my role model and everything she said or did, I wanted to be like her. She had a great sense of humour and my notebooks were full of short notices about the jokes she made in class. She was also a poet and inspired me to write myself. I secretly wished that I would somehow resemble her when I grow up. But I was a messy teenager. Very bright and hardworking, but not very well behaved. I believed in justice and couldn’t keep my mouth shut when I noticed some iniquities. I was also very active and would be in first rows when somebody would propose some action, even though it might have been a silly one. So I happened to be a co-editor of a school paper, which my class had set up and wrote many articles for it. In the beginning of my third year, I was preparing for a national ballet competition and I was quite unhappy about my ballet teacher’s work and attitude. He made it clear I was not his protégé, even though I was the only one in class being sent to this competition. I was upset with his methods and behaviour, and not just his, but the entire school policy. Ballet world sucks – it’s very competitive, most of the discussions are around your obeying body and relationships are harsh. But I didn’t mind it back then. What I did mind, was that I wanted to work even harder, but had no opportunity to do so. I wanted more trainings, more lessons, but couldn’t find a listening ear that would enable me to develop to the maximum. So since nobody would listen, I wrote an article about this – an anonymous one, without names, but I did put a signature, which clearly pointed to me as an author. I didn’t want to hide, but didn’t want to point fingers either. I felt I had to let it out and hoped that something would change.
Much changed, and the change came rapidly. My ballet teacher recognized himself in this piece of writing and went mad. I was called up into his office and he yelled at me for about half an hour so loud, that the entire school heard it. I was called names, was threatened and in the end, sent home with a prohibition to come back until the teaching staff board meeting. What was worse, was that he revealed himself as being the person I was referring to in the article, so that everybody knew who he was and what he’s doing and that upset him even more.
I went home. I was petrified. And shocked. My intention was not to harm anybody, but to raise an issue that it is time for a change and discussion. Everything I told was the truth and furthermore, it was not my opinion entirely. We talked about these issues and most of my other colleagues agreed with my concerns, but as soon as this happened, their mouths were shut and I was left alone.
The board meeting was in a few days. I was not allowed to attend trainings in the meantime. When the board was over, M. approached me and said they were considering expulsion. But she told me not to worry, because it’s not going to happen. Later on I heard that she stood up for me in the meeting and claimed that all I did was expressing my opinion in a free speech country and I should not be punished for daring to step out to say the emperor’s naked. She was the only one who dared to say something in my defence. So they did not expel me, I only got a final notice. But the ballet teacher withdrew his mentorship and wouldn’t talk to me for one year, even though I won the second place in that competition. However, inspite of that I cried almost every night, because my spirit was broken. And this was the end of my wild nature. It was the beginning of the end of my career as a dancer, only I didn’t know this at that point. I was only 16.
The end happened about 5 years later. Following years brought me much trouble and some very difficult time. When I left the opera house, I was a nervous wreck. Most of the people abandoned me. M. stayed. But she never asked anything. Never judged. She left me alone, but not lonely. Never gave me “the disgusting look” I frequently got from the others in terms of “look at her, she’s destroying herself and there’s no hope for her”. She was just simply there as if nothing was wrong and I was always good enough, even though I was nothing and felt like nothing.
After I went to the university, she stayed still. Talked to me about different things. She was interested in how I was doing. And I think she saved my life, because she showed me that life goes on, no matter what. That even though you lose everything, some people stay. Not because of what you do and how you do it, but simply because you are and that’s enough. This was huge for me and made me realize, she was there the whole time, from the first day I came to this school. She wrote a letter to me when I was in a hospital and couldn’t rehearse. She congratulated me for my birthday, every year. She read my poems and encouraged me to write, because she thought I was talented. And she was proud when I graduated and won the Prešeren’s prize.
She’s retired now, but we still keep in touch. Our relationship has changed, because she’s not my teacher anymore and I’m a grown-up, but it has become an even better one. She follows this blog and I know that when she’ll read this post, she’ll be very surprised. So here’s to you, M.: You probably had no idea what a positive influence you had on my development. Nevertheless, yes – you saved my life and you contributed a great deal to my moral education. I’m grateful to have the opportunity to share a piece of my life with you and have a tiny place in yours. It is a gem for me and no words will ever be enough to say thank you for what you have done and that you are still here.
Once we spent an afternoon at your place and you gave me a small notebook. I use it to write good things in it, that have happened to me. And there are actually many things in there! So maybe I’ll start writing some posts in Slovenian, as you requested. Maybe the time is right to do so.