Remembering Jessica Goldstein

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

"We are not idealized wild things. We are imperfect mortal beings, aware of that mortality even as we push it away, failed by our very complication, so wired that when we mourn our losses we also mourn, for better or for worse, ourselves. As we were. As we are no longer. As we will one day not be at all.” ― Joan Didion, The Year of Magical Thinking

This quote was with me all day yesterday, after I learned that my acting teacher in high school, Jessica Goldstein had passed away from brain cancer early that morning. She had been a great friend and mentor to me - one of those teachers that you talk about in your memoirs as someone who touched your life and made you really believe in yourself. One of those mythical people who, while they were all-too-human, still came through for you in every possible way and encouraged you to be the best person you could be.

Many of my high school memories are peppered with memories of Goldstein. I remember her in her amazing laugh. I remember her telling us stories about Nepal and Russia and New York - places we suburban kids could only dream were much better than the city we'd grown up in. She was accomplished in so many ways, and yet she never condescended to us. She treated us like mini-adults and gave us much more sway than many of our other teachers. She fought for us, especially when we wanted to do something radical.

She allowed me to put on one of my most glowing accomplishments: a stage-adapted version of Speak, a novel by Laurie Halse Anderson about rape and its affect on a high school girl's psyche. She pushed me to be courageous, to press hard, and to speak with my loudest and clearest voice.

I will miss her dearly.

 Lovely Goldstein, smiling amidst all our crazy high school antics.