I met you again the other day. I was trying my hand at teaching a college level course...and there you were in the back of the class. Of course, it was not you. As a matter of fact, I have not actually laid eyes on you in at least three years. Though thanks to the wonders of the Internet--we connect. I run my fears by you and my ideas. I look for the shoring up of my ego that only you can provide in a big brother, tough love sort of way. Yes. We were together together once, but I think only long enough so we could be as close friends as we are now. But I digress. You. In the back of my class.
It was a night college class for non-traditional students. Adult learners, I think, is the term these days. It was a Hodgepodge of different kinds of students. Some very young and perhaps would feel more engaged in day classroom with younger students. Some were retirement age. All, however, were clearly trying to make it through college most of them for the first time and unsure if they could make it through to the end. You didn't fit the crowd. You clearly had been in college before. You probably went the first time not thinking about the job afterward as so many in college do these days. You went for the old school reason. The reason folks went on to higher learning back in the 60's --for the pursuit of knowledge and ideas.
Like I said. I know it wasn't you, but it was.
He reminded me of the conversations we used to have about school. About Harvard and Yale and how things sort of fell apart and you did not get to go. He reminded me of the slightly downtrodden and misty way you used to talk about not finishing. He also reminded me of the way you used to say you were going back but not with as much egoism as you said everything else--like you didn't quite think you would ever go. I remember thinking to myself "My. How smart he is? There is no reason for him to feel down on himself...he will go eventually and it will be the right time."
But it was not about your or his academic career that made me think about you/him in a wistful sort of way that evening. It was what you taught me about me. I learned so much with you back in the days when we were both fighting bouts of depression. You balancing precariously the family life which was irrevocably changed by your decision to be happy while also working to be the best father you could be. Me, attempting to break away from the past with a fresh start and accept my life in a new city. You taught me that I deserved more than the man I loved for so long in such a toxic way. You reminded me, in your tough love sort of way, that it is okay to expect the door to be opened for me, to let a man be a man, and to not feel like it is my job to fix what is clearly broken in the lives' of some of the men I had dated. We had fun. We did stuff. We did interesting, new, mentally, physically, and spiritually stimulating stuff. Not just drinking at the bar or at the crib. You taught me to demand more of others and myself. And then it self-destructed. But just as it was supposed to.
As I sat at the desk, while the class jotted down some ideas about their next assignment and shared the thoughts with fellow classmates, I thought about you and what a blessing you were back then and still are today. You never knew it, but you kept me off the ledge even as your ledge was crumbling.
Today we are thousands of miles away from then and in physical distance. But I remember and it was good. Today, you are in school, doing your thang. Earning credits for life experience. You are in a wonderful relationship with a wonderful lady. You are finally writing that book. You have come a long way. I have come a long way. We have come a long way.
Thanks in more ways than I can ever count.