Thursday, February 07, 2008

Thoughts on A Thursday Morning

I’m never quite sure how other people think of me. When I hear someone say, “My best friend says…” I wonder if anyone ever thinks of me that way, as a best friend. I guess it doesn’t really matter, because I have a small circle of good friends, and I have someone who I think of as my best friend, but I don’t actually know if she feels the same way.

I sometimes wonder what people say about me to their husbands or to their other friends. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that they think I am judgmental, picky, obnoxious, full of myself – I think I am a little bit of all of these things.

I spend a lot of time thinking about people I only knew for a brief period of time in college or in Israel. I wonder if those people even remember me. Some, I’m sure, don’t. If you asked, they’d furrow their brows, squint off into the distance, and shake their heads. “WG? No, doesn’t ring a bell.” Others might smile and nod and then move on, and maybe one or two would say that they often wonder what became of me.

When I was in college, my sophomore year roommate and I served as TAs in a particularly awful humanities class. The students in our section met with us weekly. One of the students, BitterDude, hated us on sight. He was openly, though mildly, disdainful of anything we said or did. We didn’t really care, and the semester, thankfully, ended. At the end of my sophomore year, I moved to Israel. In those last few weeks of school, I think I felt pretty secure. I knew what I was doing, and it showed, for the most part. So when one morning I found myself in an almost empty cafeteria for breakfast, I smiled at BitterDude as he passed by.

He sat opposite me and we spoke pleasantly about our plans for next year. He would spend the year abroad in England. I told him I was moving to Israel to join the army. He was stunned. We talked over breakfast and at the end of the meal he said, “Good luck, WG. I’ll be thinking of you.”

About seven months after I arrived in Israel, I got a letter from him, postmarked London. I don’t have it anymore, and I don’t remember the whole thing, but it started off: “Dear WG, The last time I saw you, I told you that I would be thinking of you, and I have been.” He went on to profess strong feelings for me, and a sense of profound regret that he had been too wrapped up in himself to get to know me properly during our time together in college. He closed with lines from a poem describing setting two cups on a table in anticipation of a visitor, and he told me, “WG, I always have two cups on my table.”

OK, maybe it’s not as intense now, but my nineteen-year-old self was overwhelmed. And perhaps more frequently than I should, I find myself wondering if he still thinks of me. But for that letter, he would have passed from my consciousness completely. Because of that note, an airmail letter I don’t even have anymore, he stays in my mind, popping up to surprise me every so often.


ella said...

I bet people think of you far more often -- and far more positively -- than you realize. I'm willing to bet you've had good influences on a lot of people's lives.

Dramalish said...

This is a lovely piece of writing.

I think of you too, but in a different way than your old college friend... meaning I'm mostly jealous of your wit and grace! ;)

Keep up the good work... I love it when bloglines tells me you've posted.

Anonymous said...

I too often have the same thoughts you had on Thursday (you know - the what if's?)...and being that even after weeks go by that I don't check your site - I always end up coming to find out what's your latest "piece of art" - so even though I've never met you in person, I do think of you - so those who have, must certainly do....
Natalie, fellow Sotos mom....

Lisa b said...

It is fascinating to me to get a glimpse in other people's minds, both BitterDude's and yours.