The desks were perfectly aligned with the floor tiles, exactly equidistant from each other in the row and each row exactly equidistant from the next. The books and workbooks were stacked as if they were one smooth, even brick. The papers in the tray, tossed in by hurried students, had been taken out and tapped on the tabletop to straighten and even them out, then placed carefully – perfectly centered – back in the tray.

I always stood in silent awe in that room, almost afraid to move. I’d never seen a classroom – or any room – more ordered and pristine. Intimidation immediately flooded over me, followed quickly by a sarcastic smirk. How ridiculous.

And sometimes – not always – not even often – as I left the room, I would surreptitiously knock one desk slightly out of line, or push one book or workbook just off plumb. Then I would walk away, secretly smiling and triumphant. Funny, funny me.

I wonder now, though, if the root cause of my action was really friendly humor. Perhaps it was a bit of rebellion against order. A latent angst against such a demonstration of control.

Another thought occurs to me. Perhaps what caused my hand to mar the uniformity was jealousy. Was my initial reaction of insecurity and intimidation my “real” reaction? She had created order out of her universe. As my uneven-rowed, messy-piled self left her room, did I want to impose my own disorder into her perfect world? Or maybe I just needed to walk away with a picture of a room in my mind closer to my normal and not to her perfection.

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