It’s Teachers’ Day. I remember last year Florian sent me a message with this one and none of my students (except for one student’s parent) did anything at all. I wasn’t expecting for any flowers nor presents, just a small gesture would be enough and all it took to warm one’s heart, even when that one didn’t considered himself a professional teacher since it was such a sacred job.
This year, it was much more that expected. I had 3 different cakes, 2 out of which are my favorite and it was much more touching when I was aware that they were specifically made for me and my taste. Two gave me a handmade cards, 2 with flowers (which I never really like but again, the presents didn’t matter that much), 1 with a bottle of wine and an empty card which I was pretty sure was the mom’s idea, 1 with a box full of markers and 1 small echeveria. That student raised the echevaria herself and told me I should be able to “absorb” the good things in life like that plant did with barely much surrounding material.
We had a small class reunion to revisit a teacher we met 10 years ago. He was never married despite his age approaching 50, which shouldn’t be a regular topic of discussion for others. I had always thought he was gay. I knew he was gay. He was always in favor of me back in the days. Always. He took me to the mall once to get ice cream. And I ran away afterwards feeling scared. He was innocent. But I knew he was interested.
That was exactly why I was surprised at first to hear the news he was going to get married to a woman, from his mouth, in his own new fancy apartment. But then again, I understood why it happened, considering the pressure he had been receiving all his life. Even the students who were supposed to be supportive of him, not ridiculing him for his personal life not playing out the way they consider normal. He handed me ice and beer, still discretly and shyly, the way he did when he secretly gave me 20 bucks back then without letting the class know.
The class went for another round of chit chat which was never my cup of tea. It was great seeing them again since I knew I always liked some of the traits they possessed and the joy in hearing old stories being retold again and again. There were only 6 of us today. The number kept getting smaller and smaller. But it didn’t matter.
The thing that mattered was the substance those conversation conveyed. It was supposed to be about rekindling memories and instead, they found a way to keep on saying things about other mates’ private life, about getting married since 26 was approaching, about how lucky our teacher was to be able to find a girl at that age, about maybe it was because of his money, about how certain classmates never seemed to be in a relationship, about their ideas of “settling down”.
It got to the point that I had to raise my voice to defend him and stood up. I never saw them that small before that and suddenly anger turned into pity. Yes, I did pity them, for being so highly educated and still trampling on the path their ancestors had laid down, for making fun of the very person who played a part in getting them to where they are now, for would rather rush to marriage because of age rather than choose to stay single, for granting themselves dependent in happiness.
“You’re still waiting for her, that’s why you haven’t got a girl friend,” a girl who lived by Tumblr quotes and Facebook check ins turned to me, referring to a very good friend of mine back then, with a winning smile since she is currently in a relationship. I just smirked, literally, with so much despite.“Please”.
And yes, I do think about her sometimes, but in the most gentle way, like when she shared with me her breakfast or ran around town just to find the book that I didn’t have. She has a boyfriend, and I heard people say he looked like me.
Filling places is not unfamiliar. Loving one person for he bear resemblances to certain figure in the past isn’t pointless. You still love him for who he is, but it comes with a bonus. I used to do the same with Ben.
But comparison is another thing. Joey didn’t say anything even though I had been dropping hints about the Teacher’s Day or my upcoming birthday and I kept comparing his actions to the previous ones. Surely he didn’t do well on that department, but I know how he’s going to respond if I bring it up. “Communication is the key. You have to communicate with me, tell me your expectation, for me to understand you better.”