>In the final graduate class toward my Masters Degree, all of the class members were describing their personal growth and professional progress as they had passed through the program cycle. We were seated in a circle, and Deb was showing us a collection of photos that represented critical points in her journey. My friend Sara was seated next to me. The classroom windows were tall and narrow, so only a few of us sitting exactly in the right place could see outside.
Beyond the window behind Deb, on an entrance road that passed rather close to the building, a juggler appeared. Yes, a juggler. Big yellow shoes, baggy black clown pants, bowling-pin style clubs spiraling through the air. Sara and I exchanged glances, then looked back at Deb and tried to concentrate. The juggler walked on, and a parade of dog-walkers following him. This group of people — it had to be at least 75 to 100, just counting the two-legged folk — strode along as though they were marching for a cause (which was probably the case!). By this time, Sara and I could no longer look at each other. The longer the line went on, the closer we came to laughing. When the dogs and their humans were fading away, a helicopter landed on the campus lawn.
Yes, a helicopter.
Deb had no idea.
Every story has a beginning, a middle, and an end. The beginning of this one is the setting, with Deb telling her story. The middle? The ongoing parade outside the school. The end would have to be the part where we told her what was going on during her presentation. Sara and I held onto our sanity and our drama skills to at least feign focus until Deb was done. Then, during our break, we told her the whole story. I was wiping tears from my eyes, and so was Deb. Truth is stranger than fiction, and this was one of the strangest things to happen to us during grad school.
Yes, we are still friends. Deb’s a fabulous teacher and a great juggler herself, a mother of three and teacher in a low-income school in our fair district. Her sense of humor took her through this whole cycle of grad classes, and served her yet again when we let her know what kind of distraction she’d been fighting and she hadn’t even known it.
As the school year looms closer, and my personal juggling act gathers momentum, I always think of Deb, and the juggler who started the whole crazy parade outside the window. This story has smile value, and that’s enough for me.