Sometimes, I find myself in the strangest places on the Internet. Yesterday, I started thinking about the first American school I went to, Oak View Elementary in Fairfax, Virginia. We had moved to Fairfax from England in 1978 after my dad retired from the Air Force and my parents bought a house on Portsmouth Road. My aunt, uncle, and cousins lived within walking distance of our house. Aunt Doris taught math at Robinson Secondary School, and her sons, my cousins, would walk me to school because I was in first and second grade, and we all went to the same school. I had gone to kindergarten at a British school right next to Mildenhall Air Force Base. Mom sent me to the British school, because it had a longer school day than the American school on base had.
The gym teacher at Oak View at that time was a guy named Jim Moyer. He was well-known in the area, because he taught kids how to walk on stilts and ride unicycles. I remember him to be a tall guy who wore glasses, colorful polyester shorts, and taught tumbling after school. I even remember taking his tumbling class, although I was pretty terrible at it. Oak View was built in 1968, so it was a fairly new school when I attended. I remember thinking it was a really well equipped school. It had a huge gym and play area called the “blacktop”. I think there was also a cool wooden playground there, although I’m not sure if it was there when I was a kid.
Mr. Moyer had a circus club that continues today, even though he died of a heart attack in 2001. Based on my boredom inspired research yesterday, he was a very well-regarded and much beloved teacher in that part of Fairfax County. Here’s a 1987 article from the Washington Post about Mr. Moyer, and I’ve found other tributes to him on Facebook and blogs. I think it’s amazing that I had him as a teacher.
I liked Oak View a lot. It had a big library and I loved being able to walk there from home. I loved my first grade teacher, Mrs. Klinge, who was always so nice to me. I got along with everyone at school, with the exception of my cousin, Brad, who was two years older than me and didn’t like me. I liked my second grade teacher, Ms. Cook, less. Brad had had her, too. But overall, I would have loved to have stayed at Oak View… Unfortunately, my parents hated living in Northern Virginia and wanted to start their own business.
In 1980, we moved to Gloucester County, in southeastern Virginia. It was very different from Fairfax, and I hated it from the beginning. For one thing, it was very rural, and unlike Fairfax, a lot of the students were white, and had been born and raised in the area. Fairfax, even in the 70s, had an extremely international population. I remember going to school with kids from Iran, Thailand, and Cambodia, among other places. Gloucester was pure redneck in 1980… and Botetourt Elementary School, the school I went to, was nothing like Oak View. Aside from that, even though I was born in the Tidewater area, like most everyone else at my school, I was regarded as a “come here”, and people thought I was weird. I got bullied mercilessly for the first year we lived in Gloucester and it took time before I was accepted by my peers. I guess that was a good thing, since I spent the rest of my public school career in Gloucester.
I now have many friends from Gloucester, and I think most of them have forgotten I was once a new kid. In fact, I think Gloucester may be one of the few places I can be where I’m pretty sure that if I ever needed help, I would get it. I still know a lot of people there, even though my parents moved away in 2009. They don’t think of me as an asshole, anymore… Well, not as many do, anyway. I’ve learned to forgive a lot of people who used to be mean to me. As time passes, perspectives and perceptions change. When they do, it can either be heartbreaking or heartwarming.
Last night, Bill spoke to his daughter on Skype. He saw her for the first time in over 15 years last month, when he went on a business trip to the USA. It’s been really nice to see them bond. For years, she wouldn’t speak to him. Now, they Skype all the time.
Last month, I wrote about how Bill’s daughter sent me a very sweet thank you note for making Bill happy. I responded by sending her a Jacquie Lawson e-card. Last night, Bill’s daughter told him how happy that e-card had made her, which was a relief to me. I wasn’t sure how communication from me would come across, given the past. It appears that she’s inherited her dad’s common sense, among other things… and it makes me so happy to know that she doesn’t think I’m an asshole, either. I know I have my moments, and my animosity toward her was mainly due to the way she and her sister refused to speak to Bill for so long. But now that the truth has come out… I find it easy to forgive, and even like her, which is a great thing. It’s a blessing. In fact, liking her was all I ever wanted. I hope someday, I’ll get to know her older sister, too.
Bill has to work nights all week. I think it’s going to be a very boring week for me in the evenings, because I’ll probably try to get on the wagon and give my liver a break. It’s nice not be thought of as an asshole anymore… at least by one person.
In other news, I think I married Mr. Rogers. Look at Bill’s lunch.