In High School, I had a guidance counselor called Claire though we addressed her as Ms Sham Choy. She was a wonderful young woman, fresh out from an American university, one of a new breed in the high school system. Incredibly glamorous, she wore these beautiful natural blend fabric clothes made by a designer called Claudia Pegus who, at the time, was just beginning to make a name for herself and dizzying high heels. She was an exotic bird in a cage full of mostly chickens. Claire gave our french teacher, herself exquisite looking, with her tight pencil skirts and four inch stilettos, a petite woman with long red-brown hair,a run for her money.
These two women were different from our usual teachers who were usually anything but glamorous or even interesting. Looking back now, some of those women would have been in their mid to late twenties or early thirties but that seemed so old because they seemed so lacking in personal style. In comparison to the two bright birds who brought a vivacity to classes, most of our other female teachers seemed to lack in imagination or was it just that they weren't our ideal of what was hot.
Claire was the one who found out for me how to become a UN Volunteer, join the Peace Corps and a number of other interesting alternatives while I was in sixth form. She worked in the school for a couple of years before she was transferred elsewhere but I always remember her, an elegant, slim half chinese, with tight curly hair and a rosebud mouth, who told us we could be anything. I spent many hours talking to her, slightly envious that she'd been able to leave Trinidad to go to university, that she could dress like that, she seemed so independent. She also made me feel less bad about myself.
Recently a friend sent me one of those forwards, you know the type, some schmaltzy, sentimental thing about people coming in to your life for a reason etc. I'm not so sure why now, because I'd shut away so many memories, how I managed to think of Claire and the French Teacher though they'd had such a profound influence on my life and I'm sure I was not alone. Those women taught me more than they were paid to do though I confess, I might have given Hillary, aka the French Teacher, some bad moments.
A lot of times we don't understand the significance of someone in our lives until after they have left the stage or we don't recognise the part we play in other people's lives. It's like my friend Charms, talking to her first thing in the morning is better than wheaties, she always has such a positive outlook that you cannot help but feel better. Many times we choose to surround ourselves with people who add nothing to our lives other than to stroke our egos that we know so many people, or we're being "seen" with the "right" people or places. I have fewer "friends" now than I did maybe ten years ago but the people who surround me add to my life and are here by choice, mine and theirs.
Makes you wonder doesn't it.