My favorite student years ago had Tourette syndrome. He would struggle with facial grimaces and tics. He would hold back his mouth from shouting out nutty little sentences. He was awesome and full of love. He had a big smile that seemed to be plastic stretch taffy. And when he called me a bitch I just smiled our secret smile. I raised an eyebrow and he fell to the floor. He adored me but he was broken. He was sorry every single time. You could see the struggle, the muscle memory fight not to push words from his lips. He would jerk and move and dance and wildly spin around to try and stop. I became a touchstone for him. We would sit at my desk and talk about the future and I would lie to him and tell him that everything was going to be fine. That everything he wanted would come true. I gave him a magic cup to scream and yell his words into. I gave him a place to be. I think I always felt a kinship with him. I think I always knew what the precipice felt like. I only had a better inner lasso. A better stop button. I just had one step up on him. I always find myself on the verge of things.
running towards the tiger pits
saying all the wrong things
reaching out my hands
flying kites by power lines
He must be a man now. He must be a big man with bigger thoughts and issues and if the bad bad neighborhood hasn't swallowed him up yet he could be walking around smiling that crazy big smile. He could be stopping right now to lean over and smell some purple flowers growing out of the concrete cracks down by the Rec center. If he still lives there he could be leaning over the flower and letting all the good inside of him. He surely would let his mouth open and all of the words would rush over the ground. Like wind. And even they are bad words they sound so sweet. They sound like the past.