Teri Vance: Finding strength and hope in old friends

I’ve maintained during this period of social distancing that I’m fine with it. I’m happy to spend more time at home and away from crowds.

While I adore most people, I also really value my time alone. I have often said I don’t miss all the social engagements we’re missing out on this summer.

However, as things have started to open back up, I’m realizing that may not be exactly true.

Last week, my husband hosted his first jam session in months. It was on the outdoor stage at the Red Dog Saloon in Virginia City — with tables placed an appropriate six feet apart, of course.

For those of you who’ve never been to a jam, it’s a place where all musicians are welcome. Some play alone. Most play together — feeding off of each other to create something completely original in the spontaneity of the moment.

It was just one of the magical Nevada evenings. The summer air was cool with a slight breeze. The sun drifted lazily over the mountains, in no hurry to leave us or the music dancing through the hills.

People I’d grown used to seeing on the music scene nearly every week, I hadn’t seen in months. It felt good to sit and chat and laugh.

Although I will always be a creature who needs some solitude, I have also learned that I need the company of friends and family to feed my soul.


Whilst out and about this week, in addition to catching up with some friends I hadn’t seen in many months at the jam, I also ran into some folks I hadn’t seen in years.

I walked out onto the boardwalk in Virginia City straight into a group of students I taught six years ago in the Jump Start program through Western Nevada College.

That was the first year the program was available at Dayton High School, the first college class this group of students took and my very first official teaching job.

None of us knew what we were doing. But we all committed to the experience, and learned along the way — I contend I may be the one who learned the most.

It was perfect timing, as another session of Jump Start is scheduled to begin Monday. And in some ways, it feels like starting all over again.

The format is changing from the classroom to online to reduce the risk of contamination during the coronavirus pandemic. It’s a communications class, so it lives or dies on the connections we build. I don’t know how that is going to work through the computer screen.

I’m nervous.

It helped to see those girls from my first class, because I was nervous then too. Terrified, really. And it turned out to be such a wonderful experience, with relationships that still feel authentic today. (Even if one of them beat me in a handstand contest last week.)

That encounter is giving me hope that this new class and I can figure out our way as well.


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