- La Rupture
October 10, 2006
"Senior year sucks! Definitely the most egregious year by far."
Can you tell I was studying for the SAT and trying to use all the giant words I was learning? Never mind that I pronounced it "ee-GREH-gree-us" for the longest time. . .
My French teacher had driven out to my parents' house in July to welcome me home. My close friends and family were also there. It was a fun little barbeque, and I really appreciated my parents for arranging it.
My teacher seemed in high spirits. While she was putting fixings on her hot dog, and I was standing nearby, someone volunteered to take our picture. She laughed at the absurdity of holding a hot dog in such a photo, but we didn't really have time to think or adjust. She put her arm around my shoulder and side hugged me affectionately. My arm, since she is much taller, had nowhere to go but around her waist, affectionately. We took two photos, one where she's laughing, one where we're both composed and smiling.
That party would prove to be our last hoorah, however, as though, in her mind, she had fulfilled her final French teacher duty towards me and performed some kind of student-teacher relationship Last Rites by showing up and being pleasant. She must have felt semi-responsible for the fact that I had just spent six months away from my family at so young an age.
When school began, I saw her here and there in the hallways between classes, and in thirty seconds or less, I attempted to connect with her and make her laugh with the same tricks I had used before. It didn't seem to work. I could tell she was tired of me, of my humor.
I was also finding it impossible to talk to her for any length of time. I wasn't in any of her actual classes, so I had to do what I had done in years past and seek her out during her study hall and prep periods.
"Hey! Can you talk?"
"Really? Even for like five minutes?"
"Sarah, I'm busy."
The finality with which she said that threw me off. I could tell she was laying down a boundary and trying to see if I'd respect it.
Since I couldn't necessarily prove that she wasn't busy, I had no where to go but out the door, confused. Maybe she really was busy, but that sort of thing hadn't mattered in years past. These days, she was always busy.
A few weeks later, a few level IV French students told me she was having another French dinner; they wanted to know if I could make it.
I found her in her classroom after school that day. She was sitting at her computer, and she didn't move from being straight on with it. I stood behind the monitor so she could look at me.
"I heard there's a French dinner coming up."
"Do you want me to come?"
"You are definitely invited. The other students want you to be there."
"Right, but, do you want me to be there?"
"Sarah, you are invited."
We locked eyes for a few seconds. She knew what I wanted. She wasn't going to give it to me.
I was stunned. I was checkmated for the time being. I turned on my heel and left. There was no way I was going to that dinner now.
Privately, I was distraught. I started flailing harder than I had ever flailed in my life. My poetry and lyrics got even stranger, more ridiculous and more desperate: the woman I had practically worshiped for the last three years loved me no more.
Somehow, within the next month, I found a way to get into a confrontation with her about all this. After school, in her classroom, my emotions started spilling out at her, and somehow, we ended up in the hallway--I had drawn her out, and she had followed--and we continued our quarrel by the lockers. It felt like a scene from a movie. I can't even remember what was said or what we were fighting about; all I remember is feeling delicious that she had followed me into the hallway. At least she cared that much.
Finally, I thought, some drama, some confrontation, something I could work with. I could tell her how I felt and get a reaction out of her. Someone could walk by and see us and know that we were close, that I was special.
Maybe I had been special, maybe we had been something special, but whatever was left of our high hopes for each other was now being dashed against the rocks with each stupid, passing second of this fruitless exchange, with each heartbroken, childish attempt on my part, and each sterile, stonewalling response on hers.
When that spat ended, we went our separate ways. I cleaned out my locker, which happened to be in her wing, and moved to the complete opposite end of the school, the music wing, about 100 yards away. From then on, I kept all my books and centered all my comings and goings in a new place of refuge, the office of my choir director.