Jesse West Bridges

Warm as a Rock in the Sun

The Colorado campus where I finished my degree spanned blocks and familiar faces never crossed. There was no camaraderie, no closeness between groups. The women sparred like reality show contestants over men. Oddly, my sharp memory for detail offers little of those three semesters when I can remember nearly every word of my years as one of the rhyming six.

Although I have lived in the same house for nearly 15 years, I previously moved over 40 times since Cheryl Ann and I lived in Fort Collins. This may in fact take the Team of Six record. One I do not hold proudly and could account for our years of separations.

I began my career when I was 21 teaching high school. I taught in a dozen small towns throughout Nebraska and Colorado, including prisons, institutions, and agencies. Primarily, I assisted disadvantaged adults in their search for gainful employment. I was always a student, as well. Teaching certifications require nearly constant maintenance, and I attended nearly every college in Nebraska and Colorado.

The Teacher and The Student as One

I have this ever constant dream, that I am wandering about a college campus trying to find my classroom, dreading that I have not completed my assignments for most of the semester. Then, I learn that I am the instructor of the classroom, and me, without my text book.

I finished my career with a flourish as a community college instructor and grant administrator.

Changing jobs frequently, realizing I was perhaps a fine enough teacher but placed myself in impossible situations. Two of my first teaching jobs involved 12 students at levels kindergarten through grade 8. Basically all jobs are about teaching and being taught. If one has a good teacher, work flows easily. If one has good technique in learning, work flows easily. If one is a terrible teacher or unwilling student, it all grinds to a halt.

An obscure academic and genetic map took me on a journey with which I still struggle each hour. On a hot Labor Day weekend in 1990, I vacationed at our local hospital and inn. At a mere 90 pounds, I could hold onto that slender thread between earth and heaven no longer. The tiled hospital floor fell away into Light and I was pleased. There is no pain in the place of Light, no sound, no sickness.
But the choice was not mine to make. In a breath, I was back on the gurney with a dozen needles and some worried faces over me. I was angry. How beautiful was that place of omniscient Light.

I now walk an hourly tightrope in a school of Higher Learning. One I must remain at-balancing doses of medicines. With Loss comes gifts. My early retirement has brought me to this place of quiet and introspection. Where I do what I always wanted to do. Write my stories. For us, for our families, and perhaps for a few strangers, I record my musings for all of you until further instructions are submitted on my Flight Plan.
I often review all the houses in which I lived and the acquaintances of my life, I often fall back and lean against the warm red brick of that Nebraska college. In the fading sunset I rest against the dormitory wall looking at the faces I loved, in a place that will always be my second home.


  1. Good , Cheryl. I would add one more teacher and one more student (you) to your list: brother, Rob, demanded that you fight to survive your illness and you did.

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