Nina Yokelson visiting from San Francisco, Brooklyn, 2009
Nina was my nursery school teacher. She is also now my friend, surrogate "grandmother" (appointed by me), and role model.
Whenever I tell people that I hang out with my nursery school teacher they say, "You still know her?" Then I say, "Well, she is a pretty special person, and the school was a pretty special place."
It was Noe Valley Nursery School in San Francisco, which is still there going strong. Nina was the matriarch for about 35 years. My time was the mid 1970s - a time of rainbow socks and play dough and roller skates and an infamous gorilla costume (!) Really good childhood memories that seem like hallucinations or dreams.
I get to hang with Nina when she is in town visiting her cousin in Park Slope (the other Noe Valley). She tells all the good stories and a couple of new one. I just sit and listen to her faded NY accent, and study her face.
I have wondered sometimes, "How can she remember all the kids? How can she have this much love to go around?" I'm sure she does not LIKE every one of the kids, but she has love for them. Nina has taught me by example that love is not a limited commodity. That is a very interesting realization to have - that you don't have a finite amount of love that gets divided by those you love, in competition with each other. Sometimes life feels like this, but it is not true.