This is one of those posts that talks about how awesome life can be.
I wish I wrote more of these. But I’m mostly tired and cranky these days, so occasionally I get sentimental and reflect on some of people I’m lucky to know.
When they write the book on me, I hope they give a good chunk of it to a couple of kids named Mike and Liz. Mike and Liz just had their first baby together.
Mike and Liz were both former fifth grade students of mine, too. That’s the awesome part. I talk about them all the time, and tell their story often, but I felt it important to lay it down properly.
I came home for their wedding last year. A year ago almost to the day, I think. Last minute thing. Didn’t think I’d be able to make it back from Dublin, but things worked out and I got a chance to get this picture taken:
Liz I met first. My first job teaching full-time was as a 4th grade teacher at East View. Liz was in that first class. Liked to do theatre. Used to give me pictures of her dressed up in costume from her plays. Here she is helping me pack up the room at the end of the year.
I moved up to fifth grade next year, and Liz came along for the ride. There was a new student to East View that year named Mike. Here he is with his D-Day project he made. “A BECH ASSAULT.” Mike, we need to talk about your spelling, pal…
Fun Fact: The blond girl behind Mike? She just got a job teaching first grade in my building. So now we’re co-workers.
That summer I started a theatre company for the park district, and Mike and Liz both joined up. A couple of years later I wrote my first, full-length play, and they starred in it. The Last Dance, about a group of junior high friends. Loosely based on my own youth.
(There are way too many people that I love dearly in this photo, but this is for Mike and Liz, so I’ll just stay focused on them. But hey, Renee and Freddie!)
Five years later, after many shows and even some ups and downs, we did one final one together. They played Ben and Sarah again, the same characters from The Last Dance. It was about goodbyes, and a journey. Most of my plays are about goodbyes and journeys.
(From left: Mike Arney as Ben, Liz Husted as Sarah, Freddie Zimmer as Stuart, and Kim Skibinski as Amanda. All former fifth grade students of mine.)
Shortly before Liz had their baby they stopped by my house to drop off some paint supplies I had lent them while we were painting their new house. I was making dinner and invited them to stay. We told stories and quoted The Simpsons, as we’ve done for over ten years. We talked about baby names, and of our fondness for simple, traditional names like Sarah, Elanor*, or Kate.
Last Wednesday Mike and Liz welcomed their first child into the world. And they named her Emily. Perfect.
*I recently decided that had I ever a) bothered to start a family and b) really embraced my nerdy love of The Lord of the Rings, I would have wanted to name my daughter Elanor.