stupid look on my face.


friday morning, all alone in the office. lucie came in. "i have an appointment with erin," she said. i called erin. "hello, this is erin." "hey erin, your ten o'clock his here." "okay, thanks. i'll be out in just a minute." i turned back to lucie. "she'll be out in just a minute." "thanks." and lucie sat down. lucie's phone rings. "hello?" i am reading the 6 baffling choices every horror franchise must make on cracked.com. suddenly, i hear lucie make a strange noise. it's almost like laughter, so i ignore it. i lean over in my chair, and i see lucie crying. she's sobbing, and it's frantic. even though i know nothing about her, i immediately think her boyfriend has broken up with her. what else do young people cry about? but before she says it, it hits me. someone has died. she's barely able to get the words out. she looks at me for a second, almost as though she's afraid to speak, as though saying the words out loud will make the awful thing a reality. "my grandma just died."

i can't make a sad face, frown, or even look anything close to sympathetic. for this, i hate myself. it's early in the morning, and my brain starts to work. there's an answer to this. i know this one. "i'm sorry." she gets up, wiping tears from her face. "i have to go." she leaves abruptly. i feel light, strange, even though this news doesn't have anything to do with me at all. stephanie comes out of her office. "is everything okay? i thought i heard crying." "a student's grandma just died." died isn't the right word. i know i wasn't supposed to say "died." stephanie relays the information to erin, and she uses the correct term: "passed away."

for the rest of the morning, i go over what this is supposed to mean. all of my grandparents are already long gone, the last one having passed away in 2002. i thought about how most old people seem to die in the months right after christmas. i wonder why that is. i thought about this girl getting the call in the one-minute window that she and i are alone. she could've gotten it one minute early, and she never would've shown up to the office at all. she could've gotten it one minute late, in which case, she wouldn't have heard the news until after the mock interview with erin. there was literally one or two minutes for her to receive that call, and if there is a god, or a thing called destiny, then it was my obligation to console her. but she'll probably remember that moment (i remember hearing about my own grandma: bellarmine dorm room, alone, sunny february morning) forever, and all that's there is my stupid face and a seemingly insincere "i'm sorry."

mbk helped me put it out of my head. she sent me an apologetic email about how she was afraid she had stepped over the line and upset me in some vague way. she said that she noticed i have been "upset" and "frustrated" this past week, and she wondered if it had anything to do with her. i set things right and told her she hadn't done anything, and that i wasn't upset. frustrated, maybe. lost and alone, sure. but not upset, and certainly not at her. she felt that we should get lunch, and so that's what we did. we went to ginger lime, and i ordered the peanut chicken.

during salad, she told me she had a piece of gossip that she wasn't sure what she should do with. i really didn't want to hear about it, as i'm not the best secret-keeper of all time, and i don't have much of a p-p-p-poker face. hell, i can't even fake sympathy. she kept building it up, though. she said things like "i'm not even sure i should tell you," and "i really don't know what i'm supposed to do with this," and "i heard it's gonna go public soon, and everybody is gonna hear about it, so i might as well tell you anyway." it went a little something like this:

so, this professor. i can't say any names, but i'll tell you it's somebody i've had difficult with in the past (i knew whom she was referring to immediately). well, apparently, he likes going out to dinners with students - and that's not so weird, you know? but i mean, one-on-one, a man and a woman (isn't that you and me right now?)...there are certain implications. so, anyway, after dinner, he invites her to go back to his place, and so the two of them are hanging out. and i guess this professor has a massage room with, like, a massage table and everything, and he offered to give her a massage. and he told her, "why don't you take off your shirt and underwear, er, bra?" at that point, she flipped out, and said she had to go.

this happened last summer. the student went to the dean of students and reported the incident. the dean of students promised that they would take action, but it's now seven, eight months later, and nothing has happened. the student ended up transferring to a law school in san diego, or southwestern, or some place that, according to mbk, isn't even ranked. the student was an asian student, a stereotypically meek woman who, again, according to mbk, most likely wouldn't have reported any incident of harassment. the kind of woman who just keeps quiet about things and hopes that silence will just make her problems go away.

i didn't know what to do with the information, either. so i put it in my blog. "do you have a blog?" mbk asked me. i hesitated. "uhh, yeah." "don't worry," she said, "i don't even know what blogs are." she seemed genuinely uninterested, and it put me at ease. "katie said she read your blog," she said. "yes," i said, "she has one, too." "do you keep in touch with her?" "not really." i got to thinking about how i don't keep in touch very well with anyone, and how, other than seeing coworkers and gym regulars, i've spent the entire last two weeks by myself. i fool myself into thinking that the isolation will lead to some great insight about myself, or else give me some direction about my future and where i'd like to go. but the only conclusion i've come to thus far is that it kind of sucks being by yourself.

i did some other small tasks for the rest of the afternoon. by the end of the day, i was ready for the day to be over. the cpd director walked past my desk. "oh, hey. just so you know, kayla just put in her notice today." was this a joke? she just started four months ago. your grandma's not really dead, is she? "yeah, two weeks notice. she just got her dream job at real one." real one. i'd heard of them. some web-based company that's responsible for audio/video stuff, right? real one. dream job. those are the phrases that stuck out. why, at 22 years old, fresh out of college, and in her first real job for only four months, did she get to have her dream job? why, at 27, in my first real job for nearly two years, did i not even have a clue what my dream job would be?

i went to the connolly center to go run on the treadmill for half an hour. it's my new routine, like the radiohead song, "fitter happier." regular exercise at the gym three days a week. i listened to "run this town," and the usual chorus stuck out more than ever: life's a game/but it's not fair/i break the rules/so i don't care. the song makes me think about how it would feel to be somebody important. a high-roller, a senator or even a gangster. and then it reminds me that i ain't shit, and probably never will be shit. and i don't know if i've been able to fully accept that yet.

last of all, my bus was late. i stood in the cold rain in my gym shorts for half an hour, listening to clarity. and then it came to me (clarity always makes me think about these life-changing decisions). i'd quit my job in the summer, and i'd just use all the money i've saved so far to go travel. i'd start a new blog (hopefully one less depressing than this) to chronicle my adventures, and i'd use couchsurfing, hostelworld, craigslist, and reddit help me along the way. i'd ride trains and buses and have adventures. wake up in the morning, and all that's there is a suitcase. exhilarating.

even if it doesn't happen, it at least gave me a glimmer of hope, if only for the night. i mean, you should've seen the stupid look on my face.

1 comment:

beastmomma said...

You should come east to Boston during your adventures!