I understood myself to be the recipient of an abundance of life’s opportunity. Back in a region familiar to me in that it had been the location of my conception, the changing of its four distinct seasons seemed to mock my passage through time thus far. Whereas the cold of winter took on the guise of Death’s eternal reminder, the summer never failed to yield feelings of new possibility, reminding me of my retained youth and vigor. I was lucky, and aware of it; and, though no longer an adolescent, I could still play the part masterfully. So I sought for the parchment which had so far eluded my wall of accomplishment, and returned to that great institution near my hometown.
When in doubt, it made sense to do as others had, to walk a path paved by the free loans of my nation. In hindsight it seemed ironic that one could purposefully approach his own future without a notion of purpose. All of us, those I had grown up with, had done likewise, making of ourselves into the numerous cogs of a terribly vast contraption whose purpose could only have been that of financial servitude. But, I digress.
The words I now weave are of a simpler lesson learned. Nay, “learned” would imply that an understanding had been achieved, but upon reflection there is only melancholy…
I had once whispered to another across a line that a personage of sorts was drawing much clamour toward Illinois, but that had been years prior and we no longer talked. Yet here I stood with a decision to be made: do I not bother my uninterested self, or do I queue to vote early for that now prominent figure?
Taking my position, I appreciated the ease with which the act was made possible for me to commit. It all made sense given the bastion of liberalism to which I found myself succumbed. Everything had been made easy for us, and reality seemed a trivia kept back by the faux ancient gates of the institution. It was then that I noticed a familiar face falling in at my back.
I turned to be met with the same charms I had noticed weeks earlier during lecture, only this time they were directed at me. It was the same feminine figure which had lured my eyes, from the old man’s blackboard, to taking up appreciative studies of a different nature. Attired in the typical bohemian Americana which bespeaks of an enticing combination of style, aptitude, grace, and litheness, our silent glances were all that had been spoken until this chance meeting.
My spirit felt exhilarated in response to her delighted recognition of me. As we shuffled slowly together toward the casting of our ballots, the conversation came easy. Her voice was soft and beautiful, yet confident and articulate, and we both performed that timeless dance of words between man and woman. After this incident, I found myself entertaining daydreams filled with tiny vignettes, romantic notions of elders telling their young descendants the fairy tale of their pairing so long ago: that we had met while mutually changing the world for the better, and turning our backs to evils of the past. I was aware that this line of thinking betrayed effects of the aging process on me, and being half a decade her senior, I began, possibly for the first time, to entertain the premise of everlasting fidelity. This transitioning of the self I kept fully hid, but was able to acknowledge contentedly.
From that time on she would wait for me by the classroom door after lecture, and we’d walk side by side through halls of limestone, and out onto brick pathways forested by trees planted long ago by the unseen hands of genius landscapers. Being no longer hopelessly naïve, I cherished every bit of it: every gentle breeze, every glorious panorama, and every playful exchange we shared. All traces of past anguish were rapidly cleansed from my being. We began to extend this ritual to dining at places, and walking together at night where I would leave her at her doorway, waiting patiently, day by day, for the evening to come on which she would invite me inside rather than settle for a parting kiss.
It was fall, and leaves were beginning to strew themselves upon ground. A part of me looked forward to the coming of cruel winter so that I might take her close to myself. In reflection, I see clear as day one of those dreamed up vignettes wherein my arms wrapped her close to me, and our pale faces looked out together in delight at the snow cover. Need I say what finally transpired?
One evening in late fall she was nowhere to found despite our previous arrangement. Dejected though I was, I had experienced these sensations in the past enough to know how to cope. I hadn’t yet, however, given up entirely, and sought for her at our next lecture. But on this day there stood no lovely Venus at the doorway, but rather she tarried with her items at her desk. As I exited into the hall I slowed my pace so that I might, at the least, give her a pleasant hello. What was to occur shortly after was the stuff of my aforementioned melancholy.
At a skipping pace she exited the room and breezed past me, a smile on her face, but not directed at myself. She quickly neared a group of women lounging in the hall, and approached the largest amongst them, and they embraced. Their display of intimacy left me dumbfounded, and it would be unrealistic to think this unorchestrated. I felt the eyes of the others in their group upon me as I tucked my chin and began walking.
I knew then that the world had changed. It was not the world of my upbringing, and to this day they remain an item. It was impossible to avoid drawing the conclusion that our society had willingly degenerated itself, depriving its many young people of an honest future together. There was not to be a fairy tale telling of how she and I met, just this horror story.