Saturday, June 02, 2007

Paging Professor Love

This year I fell--hard--for one of my professors. She was beautiful, with penetrating eyes and the most expressive, elegant hands that she moved when she talked, twisting her wrists just so and sometimes smacking the table for emphasis. I loved her neck, especially on the occasions when she wore scarves which accented it just right. She was poised but not stiff, comfortable in herself, fiercely brilliant but not an intellectual bully (I shouldn't say was--she still is, of course, for someone--just not for me. Of course, she's attached. Of course.). Trilingual at least, perhaps more than that. And mon cheres, there is nothing, absolument rien, as lovely as a woman who speaks French. Which she does. C'est vrai.

And, unlike many academic Sapphos, she's not the kind you would look at and say, "Oh. Yes. One of those." Which, the erotics of pedagogy aside, is one of the reasons I think I fell for her so hard. Beyond seedy, stupid MTV hot-for-teacher and into the land of Theodore Roethke's elegies, the stuff of Heloise and Abelard (minus the nunneries and mob castrations). We went out for drinks the week before graduation, just she and I, I with my high hopes tucked in my purse in the form of a tube of lipstick and enough money to get the number of drinks I'd need to say what I really thought. We drank to our respective successes and had really great conversations (plural--the topics were all over the board, from her college days to my future plans to academic politicking to Goddess-knows-what). I wore a low cut top, brought a long a jean jacket (a little butchy, but not too much) and smoked my ass off--nerves--walking to the bar. She gave me a book by one of my favorite poets, with good wishes inscribed on the title page. Somewhere between mentor-y (for which I was and am deeply appreciative) and lover-ly (to quote the song, which was in fact what I'd been hoping for).

Finally things drew to a close, and she offered to drive me home (an offer I eagerly accepted). In the parking lot of my house I finally told her how I felt, and she told me in the gentlest way possible that she felt honored, but that she couldn't. There was mutual well-wishing, expressions of a desire to stay in touch. I'm bad at it, but I swear that this time I'll do it. I felt wistful as I watched her car drive off. Out of respect for the moment, and for her exquisite being, I couldn't have tried to push it any farther--it wouldn't have been right. But if we meet someday later, and if she says yes...the hallelujah chorus will go off in my head, and I'll mouth the words back to her: Yes. Again, yes.

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