Scotland

Please accept my apologies, I started this post over a month ago. A lot has happened since then. Mostly, I started a new job and have been adjusting to a new work schedule. I do however digress to a discussion of my travel which ended almost two months ago. I also commit to regular posting (once or twice a week going forward). When we left off, I was leaving rural England for a new adventure – Scotland.

Scotland is kindness, respect and generosity. Scotland is determination, creativity and curiosity. We are castles, lochs and mountains. We are students, explorers, innovators. We are Scotland and good things live here.” Scotland was a new adventure. My spouse had never been to Scotland and the last time I was in Scotland, Gerald Ford was President. This was a new adventure.

While we did some research prior to going, this portion of the trip lacked our usual planning. We have admired Scotland from afar. We were attracted by Scotland’s history, culture, topography, and climate. Only during our trip did we learn of Outlander – which apparently is a big deal. Long story short, Scotland did not disappoint.

Prior to arriving, we asked several friends about Edinburgh. “Are you staying in Old Town or New Town?” I looked at a map and couldn’t really tell. Old Town dates back to medieval times and includes Edinburgh Castle and the Royal Mile and basically everything “up the hill.” New Town dates back to Georgian times (1714-1830s). To an American, both are old. Each parts are charming. Upon arrival, I learned we were based out of New Town at the Caledonian Hotel. The hotel is located at the base of Edinburgh Castle.

For a number of reasons, we decided to fly to Edinburgh rather than drive or take a train. Upon arrival, the airport was easy to navigate. While we planned to take a taxi to the hotel, we took the tram. For our next visit, we will most likely take a train from London or fly directly to Edinburgh.

We spent most of the first day acclimating to the city. We walked around New Town and eventually found our way to Old Town. Once in Old Town, we walked the Royal Mile to the Palace of Holyroodhouse.

This is the official residence of the Queen in Edinburgh. The palace dates back to 1128. It was a wonderful palace to introduce us to Edinburgh. If you go, I highly recommend visiting.

Our second day in Scotland was the one I anticipated the most. It involved a bus tour from Edinburgh to St. Andrews and the opportunity to walk on the famous Old Course. We booked a tour with Rabbies Tours. It was a nicely done tour with stops in Anstruther, St. Andrews, and Faulkland. Each stop was unique.

Anstruther was a quaint coastal village with a small market along the street. The views of the Firth of Fourth were stunning.

St. Andrews was everything I thought it would be. I loved walking around the Old Course and crossing the Swilcon Bridge. We also walked around the main streets and the University of St. Andrews.

Faulkland has a lot of history and a very nice palace but we didn’t have enough time to enjoy the palace. Overall, a very good tour which was reasonably priced. The guide was friendly, funny, and knowledgeable. I thought this was going to be the highlight of our time in Scotland. It was an amazing day but it finished second.

Day 3 saw us taking a 20-minute taxi ride to the west side of the Pentland Hills Regional Park at the car park near the Threipmuir Reservoir. We had no idea what we were doing, where were going, or how we would get back to Edinburgh. It was the best day of our travels. Arguably, this was the best day of the trip. We walked around the Threipmuir Reservoir, up and around Black Hill, and through the Green Cleugh (missing Bavlev Castle).

This took us to the Howe, by Howlett’s house, and along Loganeia Reservoir while looking at the east side of Black Hill and the west side of Carnethy Hill. We continued along the Logan Burn by the Glencorse Reservoir eventually making our way to the Floterstone Inn where I had a couple of pints.

Conveniently there was a bus stop at the Floterstone Inn and we took the bus back to Edinburgh. There are few words to use to describe this 3 – 4 hour hike. It was amazing. If you get to Edinburgh and you like to walk in nature, go to Pentland Hills Regional Park.

On the fourth day, we spent some time shopping in the morning. We walked from our hotel along Princes Street towards the Waverley Train station. We stopped in several stores before arriving at St. James Quarter. If you get to Edinburgh, I recommend you check this place out. If you can’t find what you want here, it probably isn’t available in Scotland. Unfortunately (or fortunately), we didn’t have much time to shop as we had an afternoon admission time at Edinburgh Castle.

As we approached the castle, you feel the energy. There were many people on the Royal Mile and even more as we approached the castle entrance. If you come to Edinburgh, you must visit the castle. It is the heart of the city. It sits atop a hill overlooking the town. Parts of the castle are nearly 1000 years old. I would advise booking the first time available for entrance to minimize the impact of the crowds. I loved the history and the views on our tour. St. Margret’s Chapel is small but amazing.

The Scottish Crown Jewels and the Stone of Destiny a must-see for history buffs. Yet, there were parts I did not like. I did not like the crowds. There were too many people. Further, the castle, like many of the historical sites in the United Kingdom (and elsewhere), has been Disnified. Further, they are not allowing guided tours so you are left to your map or your audio guides (perhaps someday I will write how audio guides are destroying historical places and ruining the experience). Yet, overall, this is a must-see. Read about it before you go and go early.

Our final full day in Edinburgh was a long wandering day, we left our hotel, walked down up to the Royal Mile, and eventually to the trailhead of Arthur’s Seat. The climb up Arthur’s Seat was challenging but doable (be sure to bring good footwear, water, and a walking stick). It takes 45-60 minutes to get to the top. Be sure to stop by the St. Anthony’s Chapel Ruins on the way up (or down). If you go early, there are fewer people. We saw more people going down than on the way up.

On the way down, we diverted away from people towards the Dunsapie Loch and along Queen’s Drive. Upon arriving at St. Margaret’s Loch, we diverted heading towards the Firth of Fourth and stopped at BabaRista for some refreshments and rest. We continued towards the water and walked around Portobello Beach. At this point, we decided we were tired. Against our better judgment, we decided to walk the 4+ miles back to our hotel.

On the way back, we needed rest again and stumbled upon the Scottish Parliament. An eclectically modern building, it had the cleanest bathrooms of the trip.

It was fun to learn about the government and walk through the building. While they were debating the issues of the day, we elected for a quick bite to eat and walked back to the hotel. My app tells me we walked 18.4 miles that day.

For most of our stay in Scotland, the weather was amazing. Clear to partly cloudy with temperatures in the upper fifties to mid-sixties. This all ended on the day we left. While the temperature remained about the same, the skies opened up and it rained. Perhaps Scotland was crying because we were leaving. We traveled from the hotel to the airport and flew to London Heathrow where our next adventure would begin.

To wrap up our trip, we took covid tests at Heathrow and ventured to our hotel which was located at the airport. We had a nice meal in the restaurant, watch the sunset from the rooftop bar, and went to bed.

Outside London

I apologize for the break between posts. I unsuccessfully attempted to dedicate writing time while traveling. Instead, I took a much-needed break from everything. I spent time in the present with my spouse and friends. But as promised, the next couple of posts will be about my travel adventures. Travel is good for the soul.

When last we met, we were leaving London. I noted some differences between pre-pandemic London and post-pandemic London. We traveled from London to Maidenhead via train (as I write this post, it could be more challenging to do this with rail strikes occurring). For a visitor, travel by train in the UK is very easy and very affordable if you buy in advance and travel off peak. I recommend everyone utilize the public transportation options in the UK and Europe.

Upon arrival in Maidenhead, we were reunited with a long-time (40+ years) and very dear friend. We have not seen her or her family since January 2020. It was wonderful to reconnect.

Our friends live in the English countryside near Henley-on-Thames. Henley has an amazing history. George Orwell spent his formative years in Henly and Russell Brand reportedly calls Henley home. However, Henley is most known for its annual rowing regatta which I hope to attend someday. If you are looking for the quintessential English experience, go to Henley. Walk along the Thames, visit the rowing museum, and visit the shops.

This visit to Henley was about visiting friends. They graciously invite us into their home for a few days and show us around the area. What I most enjoy are the walks in the countryside. There are many dedicated public paths and options available. In less than an hour, you can walk along the Thames, through a forest, through a deer park, and to a pub. Since walking is one of the best things you can do for your health, we spent much of our time walking around the countryside.

When not walking around the countryside, we were walking through gardens. People take their gardens very seriously in this part of the world. The climate is very suitable to have a great garden. It doesn’t have the extremes you see in South Dakota. While we were there, the days warmed to around 70 degrees and cooled to the mid-fifties at night. There were few pesky bugs and the air quality was very good. As I wandered through the gardens, I wondered whether one could achieve similar results where I live. So many beautiful flowers and grasses in the gardens. Perhaps that will be a summer project for me.

But the best part of the visit to this area involved time spent with friends conversing about life, food, wine, politics, and business. The discussion were interesting, intellectual, and informative. I am reminded the pandemic reduced the opportunities for these kinds of discussions. It was wonderful to share them again.

After three full days, it was time to move on to new adventures. Next stop – Edinburgh.

London Times

And so our time in London is done. In a short few days, we visited the birth place of Elizabeth I (Greenwich) and her death place (Richmond). The palaces are long gone but the cities are amazing. We visited the Richmond Green (including the Ted Lasso pub) and toured Kew Gardens. We experienced various pubs (Stage Door, Queens Head, Princes Head, Coach and Horses). We ate amazing food (Thames Eatery, Brasserie Zedel, Arch Duke, The Ivy, Colbert, and St James Cafe). We ran into friends from home. We walked and walked and walked (averaged about 10 miles per day). We observed a city prepared to celebrate Elizabeth II. It is her platinum jubilee 70 years on the throne.

London remains an amazing vibrant city but it has changed. In the future, I will write more about how London has changed since pandemic and Brexit. For now, we travel outside of London to visit dear friends we have not seen since before the pandemic.

“Happiness is a good flow of life.” – Zeno

An Elizabethan Theme

Recently, I visited London. London is a place I dearly love. A place where I feel comfortable. A place with so many opportunities to wander and ponder. I have not been in London since January 2020. Much has changed as both the pandemic and Brexit occurred. But mostly, London remains the vibrant cultural hub of activity.

As we arrived, the city was preparing to celebrate the Platinum Jubilee for Queen Elizabeth II. Elizabeth II is the longest-serving British monarch having served for 70 years. Most people in the United Kingdom have lived under one monarch. It will be interesting to see how history tells the story of this Elizabethan era. While the presence and celebration of Elizabeth II is everywhere in Central London, we chose to explore on the outskirts of Central London.

On day 1, we took the Thames Clipper from Embankment to Greenwich. I highly recommend this mode of transportation. Though more expensive, it is a unique way to see the city. Tip: Be sure to arrive early and get a window seat. Greenwich is famous for its Royal Observatory where one can stand on the prime meridian line. You can tour the Cutty Sark , the last remaining tea clipper. The University of Greenwich is there on the grounds of the Old Royal Naval College. You can walk through the amazing parks and get great views of London and Canary Wharf. Lots of dogs and kids running around. While in Greenwich, visiting the Greenwich Market is a must just to seen the eclectic mix of arts, crafts, and food. Speaking of food, if you want to eat, there are plenty of options so come here hungry!

Little known to many is the presence of a now (mostly) gone palace. The Palace of Placentia. Henry VIII was born here as were his two daughters Mary and Elizabeth. Elizabeth is reported to have spent much time here growing up. There is a tree on the grounds which she reportedly played under as a child and remains of the tree can still be seen! So much history is present. The palace was (mostly) torn down by Charles II in hopes to rebuild something bigger and better but it never happened. Read more about it here. I highly recommend a trip to Greenwich.

On day 2, we headed to Richmond. We used the train though the underground will take you there too. This trip was inspired by watching Ted Lasso. Though we had been to Richmond before, we had not explored it through the Ted Lasso lens. We arrived mid-morning on a Sunday and all was quiet. We stumbled upon a nice restaurant for breakfast. We wandered toward Richmond Green to locate the Princes Head Pub featured in the show. We also found where Ted lives but we we didn’t find the source of his biscuits! The park was quiet and most things were still closed. We decided to walk along the Thames Path to and around the Old Deer Park and up the Thames Path to Royal Botanical Gardens a.k.a. Kew Gardens (Total walk was about 2.5 miles. It’s flat and easy.)

If you have never been to Kew Gardens and you are interested in plants, flowers, trees, and bees, this is a must go place. It is stunningly beautiful and diverse. See what is there! Plants from all over the world. Each plant is marked and many have a description. Whether you are just learning about plants or are already an expert, there is something here for you.

After a couple of hours (which isn’t enough) we strolled back to Richmond, shopped a bit and ate at the Prince’s Head. Though there are only a few original structures left, Richmond was once the site a great palace. Richmond Palace was a favorite of Queen Elizabeth I. She died here in 1603.

So in the span of two days, we visited the birth and death places of Elizabeth I. All this was done as the country prepared to celebrate Elizabeth II.

Homecomings

My father was born in Aberdeen, South Dakota. He grew up in Aberdeen shaped by the Great Depression and World War II. My grandparents lived in Aberdeen for most (if not all) of their 50+ years of marriage. Both my grandparents and several relatives are buried in Aberdeen. Growing up, I visited Aberdeen a few times a year to visit my grandparents. When I think of Aberdeen, I think of family.

So why do I talk of Aberdeen? Is it because I want my readers to know about the third largest city in South Dakota? Not really but be curious and click the link above to learn more. Is it because I am feeling sentimental about life and reflecting upon all that is good? Perhaps. Is it because next week I will be in Scotland near Aberdeen, Scotland? No, but I will be in Scotland next week and will blog about it.

So why Aberdeen? Why now? Bear with the story for moment. About 18 months ago, I made the decision to transition out of higher education. As I researched career transition option, I considered many industries where I could utilize my skills. For many reasons, I focused much of my attention toward the trust industry. The trust industry has a strong presence on South Dakota due to favorable laws.

With that, I am extremely excited to announce that I have a accepted a position with Dacotah Bank in Sioux Falls as Trust and Wealth Advisor. So how does this tie into Aberdeen? Dacotah Bank was founded in Aberdeen. So, in many ways, this job is a homecoming for my family.

Transitions

At the top of this post, is a picture of a place that was a sanctuary during the pandemic. It is approximately a 2-mile walk from my home. I would come here and look at the flowers, the gazebo, and the trees. I would ponder life and meditate. Today, I came here to do the same. I wanted to teach a class here but never did.

A little over a week ago, I gave my last lecture. Today will be my last class session. In lieu of a final exam, we will watch student-made videos and say goodbye.

This will be one of many transitions that will take place in the coming days. Seniors will be graduating from the institution I have loved for the past 16 years. Most will move into jobs and careers while others will matriculate to graduate school. Those not graduating will transition out of the dorms to home or other summer living arrangements. Many will transition from school to summer work and/or internships. And finally, many students and colleagues will transition out of Augustana into another phase of life (retirement, another school, work).

For me, I will continue my life change. I am moving out of academia back into the private sector (decisions will be made tomorrow). Next week, I will move back into our remodeled home. I will travel to see friends and places not seen for a couple of years (and a few new ones). My wife will transition to one year older and I will follow if a few weeks.

Today, I am pondering all of those transitions and wishing my students and colleagues the best. I hope we can remain connected but I understand that often life takes us in different directions.

I’m not attending any of the graduation festivities this weekend and my office is clean. When I leave Augustana today, it will be the last time as faculty. In the past, I often wondered how I would feel on this day. Joy? Sadness? Relief? Excitement? Mixed emotions? As I sit here on the bench looking at the gazebo, I have the answer. I’m overwhelmed with gratitude. Harris out.

The Last Lecture

Today I will give my final lecture at Augustana. After 16 years, it is time to move on. I am not the same person who began teaching 16 years ago nor is Augustana the same institution it was 16 years ago. This is neither good nor bad. Change happens.

In recent weeks, I have thought a lot about my final semester and my final days as a professor. Last night I watched much of Randy Pausch’s last lecture.  (I watched the entire short version (here is the short version) At a minimum, you should watch the short version (10 minutes). If you are curious, you would watch the long version (approximately 85 minutes).

In class today, I will talk about intellectual property and criminal law. I will talk about the value of brand and ideas. It won’t be perfect but there were a few stories. I hope the students learn. I have always hoped they learned.

Yet I don’t want my last lecture to be about Cody the Cow. I wanted my last words at Augie to be more. Though I wasn’t asked to give the last lecture, I prepared one anyway.  I might even record it and put it up. I give this last lecture to and for my students, my colleagues, and anyone else who cares to listen. My title is “Believe, Be Curious, and Let It Be.

So please imagine I was delivering this lecture to all of my students in person.

Thank you for coming to my last lecture. I hope you enjoy it and take something away from it. To my students, you have taught me more than you will ever know. You have taught me patience, humility, clarity, compassion, and gratitude. You have taught me to ask questions before jumping to conclusions. You taught to me think the best of people. I have not been perfect and made mistakes. I have tried to hold you accountable while showing compassion.

I hope that I have taught you something in our time together. Mostly, I hope I taught you to believe.  Believe in yourself. Believe in others. Believe in your dreams. Believe you can be better and do more. I know life is tiring and you will need to rest. Rest if you must but don’t stop believing. If you could just believe in yourself as much as I believe in you – Oh, the places you will go and the things you will do. You have no idea what you are capable of achieving unless you believe.

Think about it for a moment. If I can graduate from law school, pass the bar exam, argue a case before the South Dakota Supreme Court two years after law school graduation, become a college professor, lose 60 pounds in 4 months, and walk at least 10,000 steps every day for over two years, you can do anything.

So, do us all a favor and set your goals high and work towards them every day. Believe you can do it and go for it. I believe you can do it.  Do you?

Next, I want you to be curious. Ever spent any time with a 6-year-old? Many six-year-olds are curious. They are constantly asking questions. They want to learn for the sake of learning. They aren’t angling for a grade, a job, a promotion, a raise, or fame. They just want to know!

As an undergraduate student, I was not very curious. Like many of you, I took classes to check a box as a requirement for graduation. I simply wanted to pass the class and move on. I didn’t give much thought to why the class was required or how it could help me in life. Just give me my C and move on because Cs get degrees!

I wish I would have taken the time to think about things and be curious. Ask questions. Look for solutions to the hard problems. Listen to others. What you can learn by just listening. Read books for fun. Travel frequently and to new places. Explore where you live. Find Walt Disney’s signature on the Augie campus and tell others to do the same.

Please spend part of each day growing your mind and learning something new. Read an article in a newspaper, magazine, or website. Read a chapter in a book.  Listen to a podcast or take a MOOC. Talk to an “expert.”  Ask questions. Explore nature.

Change and innovation happen through curiosity (along with hard work, luck, and failure). Innovation happens when a curious person asks, “Is there a better way to build a mousetrap?”, “Do we need a mousetrap?”, or “Perhaps mice are beneficial and shouldn’t be trapped?” Questions are powerful. Curiosity is powerful. You are powerful. Use your power for good.

Finally, accept things for what they are. One of my favorite Beatles songs is “Let It Be.” The melody is simple yet wonderful. The lyrics provide one of life’s best lessons. 

Here is a verse – And in my hour of darkness, She is standing right in front of me, Speaking words of wisdom, Let it be.

In life, there are challenges.  There are moments, days, weeks, and months that do not go your way. This is part of life. Most of this will not be within your control. But roll with the punches. Get knocked down 7 times and get up 8. Keep moving forward.

There is very little in life you can control. You can control what you eat, drink, and wear (with some limitations). Mostly, you can control your thoughts and reactions.  Beyond that, it is out of your control. So, whatever happens, don’t label it good or bad – just let it be.

To those that have been a part of this journey over the last 16+ years, from the bottom of my heart thank you. You have all given me more than I could have imagined. While I am sad that I am leaving, I am so excited about my next chapter. Life is an adventure and a journey. Enjoy the ride. 

Gratitude

I try to live each day in gratitude. Some days are more challenging than others. Finding something to be grateful for improves my mood and attitude. When grateful, I am a better husband, father, friend, and person. Gratitude provides balance is in an uncertain world.

As many of you know, I like to take pictures. I first began taking pictures when I was younger (4th grade). I particularly enjoy taking pictures at athletic events. This was inspired by reading Sports Illustrated. I was always fascinated by the pictures of athletes in action.

About six years ago, I began taking pictures of my youngest son. I did this primarily for me – to calm my nerves while he played. Then I began taking pictures of his teammates and other players I knew. I would share these pictures with the players and their parents. Most seemed very appreciative. While it took hours to process the photographs, the gratitude that I felt in sharing it with others was worth of work.

I eventually branched out and began taking pictures of student-athletes at the University where I teach. I would share these pictures on social media and with the players. I didn’t do this to receive praise. Rather, I enjoyed taking the pictures and I enjoyed giving to the students. Student-athlete work so hard and get so little attention. (Note: My University is a Division II University not a top tier D1).

Last night, I was invited to attend the spirit squad season ending showcase event at my university. (I would’ve gone even if nobody had asked because several members of the spirit squad are students of mine and deserve faculty support.) It was a wonderful and fun event full of dance, cheer, and happiness. And of course, I brought my camera and took over 1000 pictures. I’m still processing them but some are posted on my Instagram and Facebook page. I’ll work on some more tonight.

Midway through the event, I was asked to come down to the floor. While they were initial hopes that I would become “a flyer” it was not to be. Rather, I was called to be recognized by the squad for my support of them. The certificate of appreciation states gratitude for my “continuous support, your genuine excitement and appreciation of our skills and talents and for capturing those moments on film.” There were other kind words spoken and the spirit squad cheered for me. What an honor.

So today, it’s easy to find my gratitude. I’m grateful for the spirit squad at my university and my students. I often forget how busy their lives are. I often forget how hard they have to work outside of the classroom. And many of these students receive very little recognition or support. I hope that my taking pictures and sharing helps them feel recognized, supported, and appreciated.

Take time today to be grateful for one thing and share your gratitude with others.

Look in the box

Warning – This post has little relationship to the purpose of this blog. As many may know, we are doing some remodeling in our home. This has required us to temporarily move out to another location. Because we have lived in the same house for nearly 18 years, moving out has been quite a task. We have accumulated a massive amount of stuff, junk, trinkets, Knick-knacks, and memories while in this home.

Preparing for the remodel has required us make decisions about the “stuff.” Yesterday, as we were finishing cleaning out the house, my wife asked me to “take care” of a box on a shelf in our closet. I gave her a quizzical look and said “Are you sure that’s my box?” After a couple of eye rolls and sighs, she informed me it was my box. She also let me know that that box has been bothering her for years. For once, I said nothing back.

I approached this with excitement. A potential adventure if you will. For nearly 18 years, I had no idea this was “my” box. What was I going to find in “my” box? It was like opening an 18 year old time capsule!

With the help of chair, I carefully lifted the box off the top shelf in a closet. It was covered in layers of dust. No doubt this box had been the shelf for 18 years. I carefully lowed the box to the floor because it could have delicate treasure. Perhaps something from our wedding. Or maybe romantic cards we had sent to each other when dating.

Then I open the lid to reveal the treasure. First, I found a shower curtain I purchased at Grand Hotel. We went there won our honeymoon and have returned many times since. The picture above is from the first time our family went there together. I highly recommend you go.

Back to “my” treasure trove box. After carefully removing the shower curtain, my eyes couldn’t believe what I saw. The box, which was a bankers box, was full of ….. bank statements. All of bank statements predated my marriage. The statements were in banded together by year in chronological order. The most recent bank statement noted was from March 2001.

This was all that was in the box. A shower curtain and bank statements from my “Independent Jason” days. Clearly, this was worth the wait.

Yet, as I have thought about it, something can be learned. Perhaps there is something you have been keeping that you need to let go. Is there a box on your shelf? Take some time today to unpack the old box and get rid of the stuff you don’t need.

PS – When I told my wife what was in the box, I started with the bank statements – another eye roll was seen. Then I mentioned the shower curtain. My wife wants the shower curtain form the apartment. Sorry, it was in “my” box.

Remembering Jessica

It’s been almost 20 years since I last saw her. We met a handful of times. Yet, I will never forget Jessica. Some people impact your life in ways you can’t imagine.

Early in my career, I volunteered for Junior Achievement. I was assigned a first-grade classroom at one of the most economically challenged schools in my community. I met five times with the class to deliver the required curriculum which included discussion of community, family, and education. I was asked to give the students a small gift at the end of the class. After much thought, I decided to give the students a $10 gift card to Barnes and Noble. At the time, I had no idea that most of the students had never owned a book or knew Barnes and Noble existed.

The teacher would arrange for a “field trip” to Barnes and Noble so students could pick out their books. Like most kids, they loved the idea of a field trip. On a couple of occasions, I met the class and helped the students pick out their books. To see their joy and excitement was amazing. Many struggled with their decisions. I told them they could band together with several picking a book in a series and promising to trade the books as they read them. In the end, we all posed for a picture. The students would depart and our paths would never cross again.

One of those pictures is part of this post. I have circled one of the students. Her name was Jessica. With every visit to her classroom, she greeted me with a beaming smile and A LOT of questions. Questions about what I did for a living. Where was my office? Was I married? Did I have kids? What were my kids like? Did I want to see her latest art project? A couple of times her teacher reminded Jessica that I was there for all the students to learn. And when I would leave the class all of the students would say goodbye and give me a hug. Jessica wanted to be the last one.

I never saw Jessica again after that day at Barnes and Noble. She did write a thank you note for her book. Yet, a year later she was in the news. I only knew her by her first name. When I went back to the same classroom with the same teacher, she pulled me aside and told me the news. Jessica had been murdered. She would be 26 if still alive. I think of Jessica often. I think of her curiosity. I wonder what could have been. I had no idea that this precocious, curious, and kinds child would be a part of me forever. I post this today because today is the anniversary of her death.