- January 5th, 2009
Went to my old art teacher's funeral today. He died on Christmas Eve, but it really wasn't until the service started that it really hit me that he was dead. And I wouldn't see him again. I had him in elementary school, but then even though I went to the high school that he transferred to, I never took any of his classes. Even though I already knew he had brain cancer and was most likely going to die of it. I just thought Well, it's too bad I can't take any of his classes since I don't have any electives free. All I was thinking about was the credits and getting into a good college. I didn't even think about the fact that he was going to die, and if I wanted to see him again my best opportunity would be to do so now. I easily could've dropped one of those stupid math or science classes I didn't even care about and was just taking so that my course list would look all rigorous.
And now I only have the vaguest memories of him from elementary school. Most of my time there was pretty depressing, and I spent every free moment escaping reality so now the only memories I have are from the three or four times I was actually paying attention to the world around me. I remember him lecturing us on art and there was this amazing painting about this mutiny on a boat with all the mutineers hacking away with machetes (this was where I first learned what a machete was, and the main reason why I was so obsessed with them a couple years back), and he was talking about how all the angles in the painting made it have so much more action in it. I didn't really understand what he meant (and still don't exactly), but that was the moment where I first realized that there really was more to art than what I already understood, that it wasn't just smooth lines and attractive curves and appealing colors that made artwork good. That something could look hideous on the surface but was actually beautiful if you looked more deeply.
I remember being in Lego League and he and my mum walked by laughing one time and this annoying kid whistled after they'd gone past and Abbey and I were all like "Shut up!" and I was all, "Dude, that's my stepmom," and he's all like, "So?" and Abbey said, "Anyways, Mr. Wald's gay." I don't know if I had already known he was gay at this point or if it was the time he brought his boyfriend/partner/whatever (I hate the English language) into the art room after school to help with prom decorations. But now that I think about it, he was just about the only openly gay male person I knew before high school after my uncles in New York. I must be lying, but I honestly can't think of any others. That's really weird.
But I remember I admired his room the most out of all the places in the school. It was surreal, it was magical. Everything was covered in flecks of paint, and there were paintings and wooden sticks and broken televisions and everything strewn about. The smell (mostly paint, with other things I couldn't identify mixed in) was amazing. The only room that ever intrigued me more was our pathetic little gym that was maybe the size of two typical English classrooms, since there was an office built into it that didn't reach the ceiling of the rest of the room, and there was a little crawlspace between the ceiling of the office and the ceiling of the gym that the nerf balls always disappeared into. I wanted to go up there and make it our private clubhouse. I thought of running away and holing myself up there until I found a better place to run to. That wasn't a very well-thought-out plan, though, since it involved me still going to school and my mum was working at the school I attended. I thought of running away a lot in elementary school.
Once I did actually crawl up into that crawlspace, on a day my friends and I were staying after school until my mum was done with work because I was having a birthday sleepover thing that day. We moved all these weird rectangle things around until they made a kind of makeshift staircase and I crawled up to where it was, but then it was depressingly dusty and I got shocked by some stray electrical thingy and gave up on my secret clubhouse plan. Then, right after that, we all went into Mr. Wald's room to pet his new rabbit, the store-bought one whose manners weren't nearly as good as those of the beautiful wild one whose name I can't recall. It bit me on the stomach, and we all went to Mr. Wald asking, hypothetically, a person would do if they hadn't been as careful with his rabbit as he'd asked them to be and they'd gotten bitten by it, and he asked "Oh, did any of you get bit?" and Mia said "No, it's purely hypothetical!" in such a way that I was sure we'd been caught but he didn't challenge us and simply told us that such a person should clean the bite carefully with soap and water, so we all went scrambling to the bathroom as fast as we could.
I remember a little of his voice, how he spoke so loudly, so passionately. I remember helping him spray-paint some things silver for one of the high school prom decorations, and it was the first time anyone had ever let me use spray paint. He told me about a time when he was a kid that he had put two cans of spray-paint on his barbecue grill to try to get to the little ball inside, and they completely exploded and it was a miracle he hadn't died that day. I think he might've even found the little ball, too.
These are my only real memories of Mr. Wald, besides the time he told us he was going to install security cameras in his room since we were such terrible kids (and that was more than true) and his advice that odd numbers of things were more interesting and more beautiful than even ones. I didn't appreciate him while he was here, and now he's gone. Every time someone dies, I realize all the ways I didn't get to know them.
---- And I'm deleting everything I posted here in the middle because it's a bunch of emo whining about what a loser I am and how I suck. ----
But I'm still stuck in these stupid habits that I developed back in elementary school when I didn't know what the hell the world was about, and now they don't even have the tiny shred of relevancy they used to have. At other times when I thought about it I'd just say, "Well, I'll just make up for it later somehow" but in this case I can't. And it sucks.