In class, Cathy hands out stationary. The good stuff. "Today we are tackling the thank-you note." It wasn't that hard to wrap the class around her motives, turn a class into movie night or thank-you notes or the ins and outs of credit card debt. She can do this because she's an educator, and one with a limited amount of time to get her knowledge out of her and into them. Because she knows the summer school kids need a better background in the real world. Because she's bored, and doesn't want her boredom to rub off on them.
Because it's all History, now.
"People think a smiley face on an email says it all. Well, it doesn't."
She leans back against the desk, imagines herself a cool teacher.
"It's almost the end of summer here, people. I'd like to think that I've taught you something." She leans back a little further and smiles to herself: They're going to love this.
"So maybe you won't grow up to be thankless shits."
Cathy knows it's not just laziness; she knows gratitude can be difficult. That gleam in Paul's eyes as he tried to talk her cancer out of existing, to boil and scrub it away, to fulfill her needs before she acknowledges them. Gratitude can be difficult but it must not ever be impossible: Everything that rises must converge. You just have to find the angle.
"So write to someone. Anyone. And thank them. I've given you my good stationary, so don't waste it." Jasper raises his hand and wonders what they'll do with them then. She laughs. "You go to the post office! You buy stamps?" The kids look concerned, and she sighs. "Jesus. We'll cover that on Friday."
In a world with email and smiley faces, why have a post office at all? They'll keep moving forward and she'll stay here, forever, young and beautiful, with that rack and this stationary. And if she tries for the next year and a half she'll never show enough thanks to properly express the gratitude she feels.
Marlene's got Adam hanging a cuckoo clock on her wall. He's happy about his father moving home, but playing it off. Adam's love is a wave that can't be allowed to break, just like his mother, it could flood the world, so it takes him awhile to talk about what he's feeling, sometimes. It takes him awhile to know, himself. Marlene hectors Adam about the clock, and he tells her it's just trash: Marlene with all her worry is the one that's cuckoo.
She knew that already.
"It's valuable to me. Growing up, when that clock hit 5 AM and that red cardinal came out, we knew we had to hightail it to school before our father tanned our hides. We weren't good-for-nothings, like you kids these days."