A warm memory from an IG post dated 4 November 2016:
At the end of my last class today, I found one of my students from another section waiting outside the classroom. Turns out, he’d been there for the past hour.
“Why’re you here, Chico?” I asked. “We don’t have class today.”
“I saw you from outside,” he said. “You looked stressed, so I wanted to wave to you and say hi!” He added, brightly, “Nice dress!”
I wear plain black dresses to school. Aside from the cut, they basically all look the same.
“As always,” I smiled, and he took his leave.
I find that Fine Arts freshie quite a unicorn. I mean that I find his aspect strange, more akin to a seven- than a seventeen-year-old. (That is a compliment, from a Wordsworthian point of view.) He exhibits none of the angst I would expect from someone his age (and at his age I was so angsty I Iistened to hardly anything but Evanescence, Emilie Autumn, and Lacuna Coil). He seems to take it for granted that I care about him and his classmates as persons, and not just as agents I have to work with, or manage. He took it for granted that his greeting would brighten my mood (I didn’t think it would, but it did). He applies himself to tasks with determination to do his best.
He emanates an air of quiet warmth and sincerity–no tortured artist, but no glare of fucking sunshine either–that seems to come from a place of trust in the goodness of the world. He strikes me as the kind of person who means it when he says, “It’s okay,” the kind of person who has faith that in the end, everything will be alright. I don’t know whether that trust has mettle, whether it has triumphed over challenges posed by the vagaries of life, but I hope he keeps it whatever happens. Trust in life, in the world, is such a rare thing, no? And so important, if one were not to devolve to apathy, nastiness, cynicism.
My mind is a funny thing; I tend to remember the things that I read (information, ideas, plot points, striking turns of phrase, lines of poetry), but my autobiographical memory–of past experiences and situations and conversations, of people once known, of emotions felt in particular times and places–is spotty. This gap in the capaciousness, precision, and associative powers of my semantic and episodic memories means that I tend toward intellection rather than empathy or nostalgia. This is one of the reasons that I write–to collect and recollect, to turn and return to episodes I would otherwise forget, to try to capture how I feel, what insights I stumble upon, in certain, unrepeatable moments. To relive lessons in pleasure and pain, because no past is ever past, in that what is experienced continues to color the present, to constitute, consciously or not, the manifold structures of our being, and being in the world.
I don’t know if I should email Chico. It seems weird to write out of the blue. Still, today, I remembered that student, and by extension, his class, and many other classes I’ve been privileged (and pained and felt inspired, this complex of feelings, hahaha) to teach, and I hope to the universe that they are all alright.