When I was in the 5th grade at P.S. 87, I had a student teacher named Luis. I loved him. In addition to being charismatic and cute (that never hurts when your a ten year-old girl) I felt that he understood me.
Luis took the time to get to know each and every one of us in Mrs. Gumbs’ class. He knew that Jason G. was full of energy and great at kick ball. He knew that Iana was an actress and Ellie was a social butterfly.
He knew that I hated kick ball. This was solidified one day when I was standing out on the field wearing my artistic tweed coat. I was daydreaming about something or another when all of sudden I felt a huge force assault me in the stomach. It was a fire red kick ball that Jason Z. (who was also quite the kick ball connoisseur) had just thrown directly into my abdomen. I fell onto the ground and saw colored spots.
“Are you okay?” Luis said as he rushed to my side.
“Yeah, yeah,” I said quickly jumping to my feet and brushing my tweed coat off. “I’m fine.” I didn’t want to look like a giant wimp in front of the 27 other kids on the field.
Later that year, Luis would mention this incident in my 5th grade autograph book.
Luis was not only aware of my extreme dislike for kickball, but he also knew what I was good at, what I loved. He knew that I was a writer.
At 10 years-old, I knew exactly what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wanted to write novels. I was certain this was what I wanted to do with my life. In fact, during my 5th grade year, I had the opportunity to co-write an original opera with the Metropolitan Opera, which we performed at P.S.87.
At the end of the year, Luis left me with something that would take with me for my whole life. He wrote the this old adage in my autograph book:
“The pen is mightier than the sword. And you have one heck of a pen, Sarah!“
This small sentence gave my fifth grade self the courage to continue writing. Over the years, I’ve written short story after short story. I’ve filled journals with personal anecdotes, tears, raw feelings, who I really am.
But I have still yet to publish a “real novel.”
The other day, I was in a local toy store with Ari and Samara. And I found something that reminded me of Luis:
It’s a pen and a sword. It is mighty. I bought it.
This pen will be a continual reminder for me to keep writing.
Over the years, I’ve lost faith in writing. Maybe my dream will never come true. Maybe I’ll never publish a novel.
I’ve decided it doesn’t matter anymore. What matters is that I continue to use my pen, that I continue to tell my story, because the pen is mighty.