...But your deeds.
So Tim Minchin is this hilarious comedic musician (see also his bit on the power of language) who has a great song (lyrics linked above) that you can't find him performing anywhere because of copyright. But anyway, it's about context. Which is very important.
Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read. -Groucho Marx
Remember when you were younger and ran into your teacher at a grocery store, and totally didn't recognize them? Or nowadays, if you're walking downtown and walk by someone who is soooo familiar, but you just can't place them? And after the fact you realize you work with them, or went to school with them? Well, that's super common--and I remember learning about the phenomenon in intro psych.
It's interesting when you're on the other side--when the other person is the one who is confused by how familiar you look. I ran into a 2nd grader last year at the Minnesota Zoo, and said hello in passing. And he just stared blankly and almost didn't seem to notice that I said hello. I saw another kid at the Martin Luther King Day festivities-he was in the boy scout procession with some flag, and I also said hello. He kind of looked at me seemingly uncomprehending the situation. If you're so used to seeing someone in a certain place, you don't ever expect to see them in another, so you might just totally miss them in any other situation. It's like the opposite of the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon, where you learn a new word, or meet a new person and then all of a sudden--they're everywhere! You never noticed it before, but it's not because it's occurring more often, but because you now actually have a reason to notice.
Interestingly enough, in both these situations when I saw the students at school the next day, they were overly enthusiastic about the fact that I saw them--They practically shouted at me. Where was this reaction when I actually saw them the day before? Well, now that they had time to process the situation, it was a special event. For all they know I live at the school and have zero life outside. Plus, they also now have friends to whom they can brag.
Although, my students are relatively aware of my life outside of school--Kim visited again, and now I have a whole host of kids who now continually ask about my sister. This was a month ago now, and I still get "Are you the real Miss Amy?" "Where's your twin?" Shoot, the other day I had a kid ask if she was married, or has a boyfriend. (Followed by those same questions about me). So curious. But again, makes you realize how much kids pay attention to the adults in their lives, that my sister was a big enough event in the lives of students who I don't even directly work with that they still comment on it basically daily.
I wonder though, if I move back to California for grad school, how quickly they might forget me. People are adaptable, and I know I have an awful memory--but if I come back to visit, how well might they remember me? Will I have even made a big enough difference in their lives to merit being remembered even years from now--into middle school, or high school? I don't remember many adults from my elementary school outside of my classroom teachers, so I can't expect much. At least I'll remember them. I can only hope I've made a fraction of the impact on their lives that they have on mine. I know that sounds horribly cheesy and/or cliché, but, while it's still a while off, I am dreading saying goodbye.
Now, we're back to the beginning
It's just a feeling and no one knows yet
But just because they can't feel it too
Doesn't mean that you have to forget
Let your memories grow stronger and stronger
'Til they're before your eyes
You'll come back
When they call you
No need to say goodbye.
-Regina Spektor, The Call