dear woman five,
the first thing i wondered about you was how you met your wife. i was sure you had a wife. i liked your glasses. i appreciated the nerves you obviously felt in the situation. i felt like if you saw me in the crowd of 400 people, saw me seeing you, we might be friends. old habits die hard. this was a fresh start for me, but still i sat very still in the buzzing room and watched the way your right foot tapped, hoping you might feel me thinking you were interesting in all of your drab. fascinating in your very plain blazer. i had a deference to difference and immediately wanted to learn from your crooked tie, messy hair, peanut butter breath. you had toast crumbs on your collar. "okay," you said to the room, glance passing very quickly over the human looking too intensely in your direction, "hello."
i wondered what led you to dedicate your life to teaching other peoples' meanings, and what made you decide it was better to ask than to answer. there are no answers, is what you taught me, but in a glass-half-full kind of way, even though you never cracked a smile. basically, if nothing is true, i learned in your class, so is everything.
i became obsessed with your brain. your knowledge. your shyness. the fact that you were reserved and removed and dedicated to what was on the page. i took all of your classes and racked up so many philosophy electives, i had to take another year of undergrad just to fulfil my actual degree's requirements. we never chatted face-to-face, but i poured myself into your assignments. i got 97s and 98s. i learned all about assumptions. perspective. the shifting nature of truth. i became an expert.
years after graduation, maybe five or six, you ordered a coffee from me. you were with friends, talking and laughing. they guffawed as you cracked jokes about your ex husband, your kids' dad, whom you were "finally kicking to the curb!" you were the life of the sunday morning party. you were bubbling, ebullient, colourful. a tall handsome man with grey stubble and a smirk had his hand on your lower back, and you wore something expensive-looking, ordering the fanciest drink we had. No this, no that, extra whip, low fat - and then: "hey!" you said, kind of loudly. "do we know each other????"
our eyes locked, and i laughed. you weren't taken aback. i couldn’t remember your name, and all at once i wondered if i ever knew it. "i'm not sure," i said, handing you your change.
you told me to keep it, and i always will.