She is sad today. She says she broke up with her boyfriend because he lied to her. But the director tells me she passed both her tests and as soon as the next semester starts up at the other building, she will be gone. Maybe we are both thinking that now we are just marking time until then, but neither of us says that. She is surly and doesn’t want to work or talk, but we review what she was doing when I arrived anyway. I give her a phone number I looked up for the wellness center, suggesting that they can help her get a handle on her diet and her sugar levels and then maybe she will feel better, my response to her ongoing complaint over the past few weeks that I’ve been meeting her here. “I’m not depressed,” she blurts out. “Ok,” I respond, not knowing what else to say. She is hard as nails and I think, as we talk, that she begins to act more like herself because she has willed herself into being ok. “I threw his ring down the toilet,” she announces. We’d talked about the ring the day we were reading an article about how diamonds are mined and processed. She was quite interested in that article, and already knew quite a bit about diamonds. She’d told me then that if she he ever broke up with her she would keep that ring. Now it’s lost forever. “Did you get mad at yourself afterwards for throwing the ring down the toilet?” I ask. She says no, but I know I would have been and I know how much she loved that ring.
We didn’t do much work today, but we talked a lot about why she wants to be a vet tech and how she plans to finish college because she thinks it’s stupid that her brothers and sisters have all started and then dropped out. I tell her it’s hard but there’s always someone who can help you, so don’t give up. She is tough and determined now, but I wonder if she is too tough, and maybe that’s why she got sent here from the high school.
Half an hour before we are supposed to be done, her phone is buzzing and she says it is her boyfriend. She had told me she had to leave early to go to the doctor and that her mom was coming to pick her up. She jumped up to look out the window into the parking lot and giddily said, “He’s here.” He? Her dad? Her boyfriend? No time to ask. She packed up her things and headed out the door, wishing me a happy holiday and tossing off, “See you in January.”
I will be back in January, but I wonder if there’s really anything I can do for her. I can listen and give encouragement, and I will go over the math problems she will do over the holiday break. She may tell me then that she reconciled with her boyfriend, or got a new horse for Christmas, or maybe even a new ring. We will only meet 3 times before she moves up to the other building, the last step before the GED and then on to Tech and on with her life. I will wish her well and wonder, then as now, what really brought her here, and what will happen after she’s gone, but I’ll probably never know. And so it goes.