Burning down the school


I do not make efficient use of Facebook, I think; I just sort of mooch around and look at this and that.  I only have about thirty friends, which (my student employees tell me) is completely pathetic.



The other day I was looking through my various Facebook affiliations, and I noticed that, a long time ago, I’d joined a group called “Battle Ground High School Alumni.”  I looked in, and learned that –



That they just burned down my old elementary school.



It was on purpose.  The school was an old building, very dilapidated, and completely unused for a number of years.  All the local fire departments got together and used it, this past December 10, for a training exercise.  



Why am I so strangely saddened by this?



I remember the building vividly.  I remember how enormous the front steps seemed to me, and how vast the playground; I remember lining up two by two to go to recess and to come back inside, and I remember buying little red tickets for two cents each, to redeem for half-pint cartons of milk.  I remember Miss Plowman, and Miss Marvin, and Mister Ellertson.  (All of these memories are drenched in bright sunlight, for some reason, which seems odd, considering that it rains a lot in Battle Ground.  Could it be that my memory isn’t perfectly accurate?  Hmm.)



Back in 2008, Partner and I walked through Battle Ground one quiet afternoon and explored the school grounds.  The building was there – see above picture (drenched in bright sunlight) – but it was so small!  It was much bigger when I was a kid.  We played on the swings for a while (I will spare you those photos), and I took pictures and felt somehow comforted that this small piece of my childhood still remained.



And now it’s gone. 



The first house I lived in as a child was torn down years ago.  The other house I lived in was sold in 2000, and has been so completely renovated that, even on Google Earth, it’s almost unrecognizable.  Partner’s childhood home was sold a few years ago.  The restaurant in which Partner and I shared our first dinner burned down in 2006.



From the Buddha’s Fire Sermon:



“Monks, everything is burning. Burning with what? Burning with the fire of passion, the fire of aversion, the fire of delusion. Burning, I tell you, with birth, aging and death, with sorrows, lamentations, pains, distresses, and despairs.


“Seeing this, the disciple grows disenchanted with the eye, the ear, the nose, the tongue, the body, disenchanted with tactile sensations, disenchanted with consciousness at the body, disenchanted with contact at the body. He grows disenchanted with the intellect, disenchanted with ideas, disenchanted with consciousness at the intellect, disenchanted with contact at the intellect.


“Disenchanted, he becomes dispassionate. Through dispassion, he discerns that ‘Birth is depleted, the holy life fulfilled, the task done. There is nothing further for this world.’ “ 



So there is a lesson here.



But it is a painful one.



Goodbye, school.




About Loren Williams
Gay, partnered, living in Providence, working at a local university. Loves: books, movies, TV. Comments and recriminations can be sent to futureworld@cox.net.

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