Thursday, May 13, 2010

May 13

When I got back to my apartment last Friday, carrying the few things from what had been my office in a cardboard box, I found that Angie had already arrived. As I came in the door, she got up from the couch where she had been sitting. She was dressed in a pair of jeans and, it seemed ironic to me, a Charles University T-shirt. It looked like she might have been crying.

Suddenly she was in my arms, and very definitely crying. I led her back over to the couch, where we both sat and cried together. All the pain we had been feeling just welled up out of us both, refusing to be denied or suppressed any longer. I would never have wept like this if she hadn’t been there and started first. But once begun, I surrendered myself completely to all my sorrows and regrets.

I cried for so needlessly losing Shivvy’s love. I cried for my wrecked friendship with Brendan Cohen. I cried for having been falsely accused of racism. I cried for having let down Danielle when this happened to her last fall. I cried for my shattered illusions about Professor Briggs. I cried for my shattered illusions about myself, which Briggs’s reading of that letter from Brendan in front of the honor code committee did more than anything else to destroy. And I cried because I am now fully aware that there will be no future biographers or intellectual historians who are going to read this diary and write anything about me--and that even expecting this was ridiculous.

Angie cried for her broken marriage to Doug, her shattered illusions about her future with Barry, and his exploitation of her as an unpaid research assistant while he was simultaneously screwing Shivvy “and God knows who else.” And she cried for the fact that, despite everything, she still had some feelings for him because he had valued her intellect in a way that neither Doug nor any other man ever had. Finally, we both cried over the knowledge that we had each wasted a year of our young lives with absolutely nothing to show for it and with no plans at all for even the immediate future.

I asked her what she had meant when she had told me before that she would “get” Briggs. “It probably won’t work at all,” she said sniffling. “It was silly of me to think it would. I should have just moved out the day I found that damn girl’s scrunchy in his office instead of dreaming up some hare-brained scheme for revenge.”

This “scheme” was clearly something she had already put into effect. I asked her to tell me what it was she had done.

“It’s so dumb that it can’t possibly work,” she responded. “We won’t even begin to know until September anyway.” She said she wasn’t going to say anything more about this subject, “So don’t ask!”

Soon thereafter, we moved from commiserating to caressing, and from the couch to the bed. I felt nothing but gratitude toward this kind, beautiful woman for insisting that there was much worth in me when I myself saw none. She took away my despair, and she filled me with hope. I had never, ever experienced love-making like this before.

I realized that I was in love with Angie, that I had been ever since we had worked together on Briggs’s manuscript during spring break, and I told her so. She surprised me by admitting that she had felt the same way since then, too. She said she was impressed then that I remained loyal to Shivvy even though I had let Briggs convince me to break off relations with her temporarily (“to avoid any conflict of interest,” said Angie scornfully). Further, she was touched by my innocence in thinking that Shivvy would wait for me (“You really brought out my protective instincts!” she said). She was further touched by my innocence and loyalty that day in Briggs’s office when I refused to believe that he and Shivvy were having an affair (“despite the evidence”).

“Since my so-called boyfriend was fucking your so-called girlfriend,” she continued, “I thought it would have been poetic justice if you and I had made love right there in his office, just like they had.” She really would have, she insisted, if I had suggested it, but she realized that my mind didn’t work like hers. “Besides, I knew you were more to me than a quick way to get revenge on Barry.”

She had initially contemplated just up and leaving Barry, and the entire Boston area (“which really sucks if you’re not a student”) that very weekend. She decided to stay, though, not only because the plan for revenge she settled on (which she still wouldn’t describe) called for it, but also to check out the possibility of hooking up with me! “Maybe we can even plan some sort of future together,” she said, staring at me intently. “Just as long as it’s away from here.”

That sounded fine to me. She later told me that although she had now left Barry, she had not actually told him so. That might hurt her plan, at least if she did so now. Instead, she had told him that she had to go visit her mother in Southwest Virginia, and that she would let him know later when she’d be coming back. In addition to her old suitcase, which I recognized from when she moved out of here last December, she had brought another nice new one which she had “borrowed” from Briggs for her trip. Between them, they held all the possessions she wanted to take with her. “He even lent me $500,” she said, “which he’ll never see again!”

I guess my face must have expressed surprise without my realizing it. “He exploited me, Jonathan!” she declared. “Why shouldn’t I exploit him?” When we later counted up how much money we had between us, we were both grateful for Briggs’s contribution.

“I told Barry that I was catching a flight this morning,” she told me. “I was worried that he would insist on driving me all the way to the airport, like I had done for him. But he was only willing to take me as far as the Central Square T station, here near the university.” Once he’d dropped her off, she took a cab to my apartment building, tipping the driver extra to help her with her luggage.

Angie was afraid to go outside the apartment building in case Briggs happened to see her before we left here at the end of finals week. She had already quit her job as a waitress, and arranged for me to pick up her last pay check as well as to take it to her bank with one of her deposit slips. She also had me go out to do all the shopping with lists supplied by her.

On Saturday morning, I got a phone call from Professor Trizenko informing me that I had been inducted as a member of an organization known as CUR—Charles University Rejects. The only other full members besides himself, so far, were Danielle and Craig. Craig’s wife Lee only counted as an honorary member since she would remain a law student here. He wanted to know if I could attend a special initiation dinner at his home that very night.

This was so very kind! I said I’d be delighted to attend and, even though Angie was shaking her head “no” at me, I asked whether I could bring a guest whom I thought might also qualify for membership of some sort. Trizenko readily agreed. He arranged to come by and pick us up that evening. Angie was very annoyed with me until I explained what we had been invited to and who all would be there.

After we got to Trizenko’s house that evening, I had a very emotional reunion with Danielle. I apologized to her profusely for letting her down last December. We compared notes on what it felt like to be the object of a demonstration. She looked radiantly happy, and bubbled on about their upcoming move to Washington and wedding, which would take place there. Craig and Lee would also be in Washington this summer: he had gotten an unpaid internship on Capitol Hill while she had gotten (“a very highly paid,” as Craig put it) summer associateship at one of the big Washington law firms.

Angie and I told them how we had been thinking of moving down to Washington too, and they all encouraged us to do so. Ilya (as he insisted we call him) and Danielle said they hoped we’d come to their wedding, and all four offered to do what they could to help us find interesting jobs. Angie and I agreed then and there that we would also move to Washington.

(I had originally thought of reviving my application to Gates University where I had also been admitted with a fellowship, like Doug had done. But Angie said she didn’t want to go there; she would feel uncomfortable around Doug. It surprised me that I dropped this plan as soon as Angie expressed any objection to it. I really am in love!)

The four of them listened sympathetically as Angie and I related what all had happened to us. Craig livened the atmosphere back up by telling us how he had seen Michael yesterday, who is truly angry with me since Briggs did indeed ask him to grade those final exams in my place—an offer from his lord and master which Michael apparently dared not refuse. “`Couldn’t Jonathan have waited until after finals to fuck everything up?’” Craig imitated Michael thundering.

We all laughed at this. Danielle then moved that Angie also be inducted as a full member of CUR. The rest of us agreed unanimously. Angie said that this was an honor she hadn’t sought, but felt that she had no choice but to accept.

The conversation went on in this vein. I felt profoundly fortunate to be surrounded by so much love and friendship that I so little deserved. At the end of the evening, Craig and Lee drove us back to my apartment.

Finals week this semester was less frenetic than I had ever experienced either here or at Barstow. I had already finished my work for Asquith earlier in the semester. I didn’t have to see Briggs at all since he had given us a take-home final. All I had to do was put what I’d written in his departmental mail box. (“Don’t worry about the grade,” said Angie. “Since he thinks he’s defeated you, he’ll want to appear generous in victory.”)

I only had two in-class finals. One was in Prof. Stavros’s class on Wednesday. I did not feel at all embarrassed at seeing him, even though he, as department chair, had signed the letter to me announcing that my funding would not be renewed. He, on the other hand, did seem rather embarrassed to see me.

The other was in Prof. Wang’s class today (Thursday). Being only a tenure track assistant professor himself, I don’t think he had any say about my funding. I’m not even sure he knew that it had been cut.

While I leisurely studied for finals, Angie has been making arrangements for us. After a few phone calls, she found a girlfriend of hers from New Dominion University who wants to sublet her apartment for the summer. It’s located near the Vienna Metro—which is somewhere in the Northern Virginia suburbs. Angie thinks we’ll definitely need a car there, but that we should be able to get a used one fairly cheaply through Craigslist. I guess that’s what that $500 from Barry will be going for.

Angie’s taken care of all the other loose ends here. She’s incredibly well organized. She also got us a couple of cheap tickets on a flight from Boston to Washington Dulles airport tomorrow afternoon. We’ll take a cab from there to her friend’s house, and then start looking around for work. I’m sure I’ll be able to hit my parents up for a little money. I’m not quite sure what I’m going to tell them yet about why I’m leaving here.

I no longer care whether Angie’s secret plan against Briggs works or not. I’m just glad to be leaving here to begin a new life with her.

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