There are students in the cafeteria that don’t listen to me like it’s their job to teach me the finer points of ignoring someone, and this one walking away from me now is half-expecting me to call her out on it. This can be evidenced by the escalating speed of her gait away from me and the part-angry, part-worried look she shot back at me over her shoulder that might as well be a getaway vehicle.
One can imagine that someday she’ll try this with her boss on the way to a lunch break and be told upon her return she should keep walking until she gets home, where she should think about coming back and looking part-way agreeable if she wants to continue to have a bank account and discover there are some things more important than being your own boss, such as being able to afford your own shoes.
But this individual isn’t thinking about the future and whether she’ll be able to afford one. Like many students who’ve been taught the period begins and ends with them and to hell with being able to tell a story with one, since everybody lives forever, and stories never end, though of course they do, they end quite abruptly, and this ephemeral quality is in fact what makes a story feel so important, the student emerges unexpectedly from another hallway and before I can get a word out about her asking permission and sitting down, gives me the hand and says yeah yeah. Suddenly she’s twenty years older, been through a divorce, raised 5 kids on her own, and had it with support systems that pretend to help, but only keep you needy and looking down, suddenly she’s earned the right to be recklessly and proudly disrespectful.
She’s like some resentful mothers I’ve known who hit wine instead of hitting other things, and yes, of course I’m now glimpsing certain others in my past who’ve exuded this heightened level of fed up-ness and refusal, there’s no denying that fact. Such is the way of bias and how it plays with trauma and re-enactment or any realization that, at a basic level, must connect the present to a memory in order to simply start to ooze.
I’d like to tell her this while she pulls the pepperoni off her pizza and gives it to her friend who’s threatening to hit her if she doesn’t, the same one who’s simultaneously trying to fend off a boy who’s been trying to steal fries from her plate, followed by bouts of twirling and munching, so happy he is to be alive with her fries in his hand nothing else will fill him.
He’ll be running for governor eventually, and she’ll be the mayor, and they’ll both be swallowing your precious time with ads signaling how important it is to take this or that opportunity and rely on one another for help with basic needs, because we’re all here for each other.