Have you ever had a number jump out at you and take you back to a place from your past?
Last week as I headed for my home (away from home), I passed a gas station and noted that the price of gas had risen during the day. Seeing that price made me gnash my teeth, because I needed gas and it had jumped twenty-three cents from the morning. However, it wasn’t the actual price of gas that made me gasp, but the numbers 314 (yes, there was a decimal in there).
Immediately I was back in my French teacher’s classroom. This was his room number. I could clearly see the the windows that belonged to his room. I could see the staircase I climbed for four years to enter his room. I could hear his voice, “Bonjour, mademoiselle. Dites-moi que chose intéressant.” (Tell me something interesting.) This was the standard greeting every day. Of course, I had to have something ready to share (in French). Often I struggled to find something he would deem interesting. He was not a teacher I wanted to disappoint.
Ask me what room number was my English class. I have no clue. I can’t even recall what floor the class was on. The same is true for all classes. How odd that this one number has stayed with me over forty years and every time I see it, it takes me back to high school.
Perhaps it was because it was a room I visited every day for four years. Or could it be that I looked forward to this class (most of the time)? Mr. Bowman (I still can’t call him by any other name) required a book report by a French author every quarter. He let me fall in love with The Hunchback of Notre Dame, The Three Musketeers, and The Count of Monte Cristo, but the best was Les Miserables. I have never read The Little Prince in English (I suppose I should). Le Petit Prince sent me on a journey to see a baobab tree (which I saw in awe in Singapore). I was immersed in all things French for fifty minutes a day. It became my goal to visit the Louvre, see the Arc d’Triomphe, and savor the impressionist paintings at the d’Orsay. Mr. Bowman made it sound magical. And it was. But I’m still ready to head back to France and discover more.
The number 314 means so much more to me than just a number. It has the power to take me back many (should I say many, many?) years.