How to get all of Nate’s story (and mine) consumes my thoughts. I have a growing list of people I want to talk to, therapists, aides, teachers, that can give me the side of the story I don’t know. Sometimes it’s jarring to realize that, no matter how much I think I know of Nate’s life, there’s a whole other side that began the day he started school.
At Sugaring Off, the end of winter/beginning of spring breakfast at The Farmer’s Museum in Cooperstown, Karen, Nate and I ran into one of his high school teachers. As we talked about Nate, she recalled her first encounter with him.
“I was in the teachers’ room and Nate came in. He stood there, didn’t say a word, and then left. The next day, he found a different way in, and went straight to the bathroom without a word. I said to myself, ‘That’s it, I have to meet him, because I’d heard about him.’ So I went up, made him stop and talk to me.”
I’ve written, though I don’t think I’ve posted, about studying with Nate for his Regents exams. This same teacher served as his reader and related what happened on the day of the test. That’s such a crucial part of the story and I had never heard about it.
“I was reading the exam to him, and he asked me about something I knew I hadn’t read. I looked at the test and he was already way ahead of me. I wondered why I was reading the test to him at all.” Thing is, Nate’s desire to rush ahead is exactly why she needed to read and, in doing so, slow him down.
In addition to the growing list of interviews I’ll need to do, including one on one sessions with Robbie and Joey, to get the sibling point of view, new materials keep popping up. Yesterday, Karen was cleaning our back room, a combination office, computer room, mud room and dumpster. As she went through piles of papers, Nate went through a blue metal bin of his work. I retrieved good pictures of his senior year, some schoolwork and projects (a great drawing, very primitive, from his book report on Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle). As Nate went through various Simpsons printouts, I remembered his huge script of The Simpsons Movie. Not the real script, but Nate’s hoped for version, complete with scene shifts, dialogue and, as I recall, something of a plot.
Where was that now? Nate wouldn’t really answer. Robbie thinks it’s long gone. I’m hoping, when I go through Nate’s room, it’ll turn up. That script is a true Nate classic. He used to tote it around, and once, while me and the boys were waiting for Karen in the car, Robbie read some of it aloud. It was tear-producing hysterical. Even Nate, who is often unwilling to share or talk about his “work,” laughed along.
With every piece of paper, every anecdote, and every story told by someone Nate has touched in some way, the totality of the tale comes together and shows how far we’ve come.