Sometimes I can’t really figure out what the fuck happened in your class. It seems like the sort of dream I would have had in the months before I left home, tossing and turning and worrying about what college would be like only to find it just as laughably easy and depressing as high school.
That’s not to say I didn’t learn anything. Though I don’t think I learned anything you were paid to try to teach us. Sorry about that.
Anyway, yeah, I don’t know, it was the weirdest thing, an instructor presenting themselves to us as a human, and it really, really freaked me out. Because the last time that happened, they became my hero, and then they died.
Not that you were especially lovable or heroic at first. Most of the time you were trying to figure your own shit out. Some girl trouble…kind of? I guess you were the other guy for two years and had no idea.
Jesus, that’s still such bullshit. Sorry that happened, I can’t say I’ve been there but everyone’s had their heart mistreated, haven’t they? Just so you know, I wouldn’t ever condescend over that. I was 18 and I felt like my life was falling apart. Once you asked me if I was ok. I muttered some bullshit excuse under my breath about jazz class and you tried to offer the best solution you could.
That’s actually probably the most important part, and I’m sorry to keep you waiting but we’ll get to that in a second, if that’s ok. I kind of lied that day and I want to set the record straight.
I did not give a fuck about failing jazz class. I really, really didn’t. I had much bigger problems on my plate. I’ll be as brief as I can, but I can’t say it’ll hold your interest long enough. But yeah, I’ll try.
So, summer before I leave for college. My best friend in the world and I had tried dating and it didn’t work out. We had been inseparable for four years and suddenly we just weren’t speaking. I went back to what was familiar. I started dating my long time ex (who had raped me the previous summer, because great decisions) instead.
You saw him. Scrawny little thing I shrieked at in front of the coffee house. Clearly, I have stupendous taste.
I’m dating this ass clown for most of my summer, I’m seeing my friends less and less per Prince Charming’s request, my father was deployed (had been since before my graduation). The night before I leave for college I come out into the kitchen and my mom is sobbing on the floor on the phone and I freak out thinking my dad’s dead and I get awesome news and super shitty news. My dad’s alive, my favorite aunt was killed on collision by a semi. So I start weeping too and PC puts up with it for about ten minutes before screaming at me that it isn’t going to help anything and I’m being a child.
And of course there’s that rule of threes, and my favorite teacher from high school loses her fight with cancer a month later.
All this other stuff I’m going to blaze through: my roommates hated me, my dad came home from deployment and threatened daily to divorce my mom, my brother tried to run away from home, and I couldn’t protect my little sisters from any of this. I just felt like such a failure, I always joked that I was what held my family together, I had no idea it would be true. So every weekend I was running home to solve some kind of crisis. All the while I didn’t have my best friend to talk to, I was sexually and physically abused by my boyfriend again (no worries, that actually ends well, last I heard he moved to a somewhat shittier city far away from me).
So all of this is what was on my mind when you asked “Are you ok? You haven’t seemed like yourself.”
I’m sorry I lied. Probably for the best. A bad grade is easier to fix than a bad life. It almost seemed rude for me to put all of that on a semi-stranger who I didn’t think I’d ever see again after. I’m not sure what myself normally seemed like, to be honest, so I wasn’t even totally sure what you were picking up on.
But here’s the other important thing. When you asked me that, you may not believe this, but it was a huge turn around for me. It helped me get back to the person I used to be, the person I worked really, really hard to become.
I was at a point in my life where I’d stopped believing people were good, and losing the belief hurt as much as anything else that year because I was so proud of that part of myself that could see the good in people and help them see it as well. But then you reached out, when you were going through all this pain and confusion just to check into my world for a second and make sure that it wasn’t suffocating me. It reaffirmed my belief that we are here to take care of each other, and even if this isn’t what you meant by it, it made me feel like maybe there were other weirdos like me out there who believed the same thing. I’ve faced even harder challenges since that day, if you can believe it. But they felt a little easier, from the huge warmth of this small moment.
It may have been a minor every day moment, but it feels like one of the most significant ones in my life thus far.
It’s kind of funny, because this was three years ago. I wasn’t a spectacular student. I was kind of naive. I think people took my friendliness for obnoxiousness, like most 18 year old college students. You’ve had lots of students since, I’m sure, and you’ll have many after. You probably won’t remember me, and that’s ok.
But I’m always going to remember what you and what you did for me. And I just wanted to thank you.