Shake the Dust

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Mar 20 2014

Arkansas Forever

Today was the first time I have ever missed the exit for our town on highway 55. I remember being so tired that I just drove right by. I missed it, which sucks because there isn’t another exit or town or hint of life to turn around at for eleven miles. So I drove eleven miles too far north just to eventually turn eleven miles back. All that way, the extra half hour through the sun-soaked fields, I thought about what I did today.

I went to school. I had two x-rays taken of my right hip. I graded 34 math exams (mean: sad, median: mediocre, mode: not high enough). I sat on the floor of my kitchen and ate take out cheese pizza. I heard that while I was at the doctor, one of my students stormed out of the school, actually walked right out the front doors and didn’t come back. I did two loads of laundry. I referred a student who isn’t bathing or coming to school in clean clothes to the school social worker. I watched a soccer game. I sent in a form that will keep me in Arkansas for 4 more years. I sent in a form that will keep me in Arkansas for 4 more years. I sent in a form that will keep me in Arkansas for 4 more years.

I sent in a form that will keep me in Arkansas for 4 more years.

Hours later, this one keeps rolling around my brain. The others I haven’t dwelled on. I expect terrible test scores, I welcome crappy pizza, and I know my students blow up but I didn’t expect to sign that paper. Well, maybe I expected to sign it but not so willingly, or so easily, or with so much acceptance.

I sent in a form that will keep me in Arkansas for 4 more years.

I have no idea what I’m doing in this state almost every minute of every day but I’ve accepted it. I’ve accepted that I’m here and life is crazy and terrible and abundantly blessed always all at the same time. I’ve accepted that life here is full. I’ve accepted that life here drags me along rural highways and breaks my bones and rips out my heart. I’ve accepted that it feeds my body, mind, and soul and that the nourishment comes even when I don’t want it or think I need it or reject it so violently it makes me sick. I’ve accepted that I’m being broken down and formed by a history, a people, and a narrative I don’t belong to.

I’ve accepted it all because when things are easy you don’t make them hard. For no greater purpose or ideal, it’s easy for me to love it here. So I signed that paper, knowing nothing, accepting everything, being bound by a love I don’t question, and let a new thought roll around in my brain: Arkansas forever. Arkansas forever. Arkansas forever.

Arkansas forever.

4 Responses

  1. Future Elem CM

    This is what I need to see. As a ’14 Arkansas Corps Member, I can’t wait to bother the crap out of you for advice and thoughts on the region.

    Thanks so much!

  2. rachmarx

    Hey Sarah! Shoot me an email at I’d love to chat with you about TFA and Arkansas!

  3. Sarah

    Hi! My name is Sarah, and I’m a hopeful future TFAer. I love your blog, and would love to know if you had any advice for anybody planning on applying! Between your posts and Caroline’s, I’ve settled on Arkansas being my top choice should I get accepted. All the best!

  4. Arkansas Forever | Genius Pioneer linked to this post.

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Arkansas, y'all.

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