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Possibilities and Realities

January 15, 2014

Back in December, during the the intense two-week exam period I spent studying at the library, I saw someone who I had not seen in two years: E–.

I was sitting at my little cubicle in the library, working intensely at psychology or math or whatever it was, when I decided that a granola break was much needed. So I pulled out my bag of homemade granola, plugged my earbuds into my ears, and began my mini break.

Honestly, I was having so much fun. Or well, I was delightfully content. I was listening to my favourite piece of the month last two months and was munching away at my granola. I cast my eyes about, watching all the students around me as they laboriously worked at whatever they were working at. All I could think about was the inherent interestingness of the idea of the educational institution… of the marvellousness of human evolution… of how thousands of students at my school were cramming for exams as I was just sitting there, listening to my music, and eating my granola. I don’t know why, but I somehow found that amusing. 

But then I saw him walk by. There he was, E–, walking around the cubicles across the first floor. There he was with his backpack, strapped over his two shoulders. The thin, gold-rimmed, oval-shaped glasses that I remembered well, made me think back to all those times I used to gaze longingly into his eyes. Yet although they were not for mere decorative purposes, as they did serve as a visual aid, they did give him the most studious of all looks. He was the epitome of a young professor. I watched as he walked up and down the aisles between the cubicles, and in that moment, I realized that there goes the one perfect guy for me. There he goes, there he goes.

Throughout my life, I had never felt like I was missing out on romantic relationships. I was always optimistic that my love will come when he comes; I still am. People were pairing up left and right, and I never felt like I was missing out on anything. Never. But in that moment, when I was watching him stroll up and down the aisles, for the first time, I felt like I was was missing out on something valuable. There he goes, there he goes.

That lasted about 8 minutes and then I went back to working intensely at psychology or math or whatever it was.

So that was that.

But then something strange happened.

I didn’t see him again after that day because exams ended soon afterwards, and school was let out for the holidays. The next time I saw him was the first day back to school. My first class of the day was a philosophy class. At 8:35 a.m., I walked straight into the classroom and saw someone waving at me from the back. It wasn’t E–, it was MP. I smiled–for I hadn’t expected him to be in the class–and quickly went and sat down next to him. After I had settled into my seat and listened to the professor talk about the course syllabus, I realized that the guy sitting three rows in front of me looked familiar (even from behind). I cocked my head slightly to one side and knew it was him. It was unmistakably E–. I smiled to myself, for I couldn’t help thinking how funny it was that I was somehow led back to him.

Two weeks before that day, I was just thinking about how I had missed my boat, and here he was, on the first day back to school, sitting just three rows in front of me. But the part that I found most strange was that it was in this very room that we were currently in where E– and I had met exactly two years ago (we met in January), and what is more, that it was MP, himself, who had introduced E– and me to each other. It was almost like we were starting again.

That it was two years ago… two years later.

Now, of course, I knew nothing would come of it. The chances of that happening were next to nothing. Still, I let my imagination get the best of me. After all, that is the best part of having a crush on someone: the part where you get to imagine all that it could be.

For you see, although I will deal with reality in the most rationalistic of ways, I like to live in the world of possibility. That is my mode of escape: fly off to never never land, where everything is safe, comfortable, and wonderful.

After class, E–, M, and I sat outside the classroom and chatted. It was nice, and I couldn’t wait until next class (even though that philosophy class was my least favourite–in fact, I particularly hated it but was forced to take it to fulfill a degree requirement) when we all would get to chat again.

Part of a journal entry from the end of the first day of class.

Part of a journal entry from the end of the first day of class.

When I came in the next class, I heard someone say my name as I was walking up the stairs. It was AP, and I hadn’t seen her in quite awhile. I looked for E– and waved to him. He waved back, and I took a seat next to AP. We couldn’t stop talking; of course, there was much to talk about. I didn’t get a chance to see E– after class that day.

Sometime over the course of the weekend, I found out that it was possible for me to take another class instead of this one particular philosophy that I hated. I decided that I had to switch out. When I was doing the readings for that class over the week-end, I noticed what a change it was from last semester: here I was laboriously working through the reading, constantly checking to see how many pages I had left, when last semester, I was breezing through all of my readings because I had liked them so much.

And if there’s one thing I learned over the course of the past three-and-a-half years, it’s the importance of doing something that you really love. And I did not love this class. In fact, I could not so much as even tolerate it. So I began the process of switching out of that class. E– entered my mind briefly but he also left quickly, too. I knew I was giving up the possibility of something great, but this was no brain teaser. The answer was obvious. I had no problems picking what I knew would guarantee my success over the “possibility of love.” I had no problems with picking my happiness over the possibility of ours. I had no problems with choosing myself over the possibility of us.

Which, now that I’ve put it into written words, sounds mildly depressing. Ha ha.

But what can I say? I prize myself on my rationality. And it’s like Aristotle said, we do not deliberate and decide on impossible things although we wish for them. We decide on what we know and on what is in our power to do.

I e-mailed the professor for the other class and asked her to let me in. I knew that the possibility of getting into this new philosophy class was very great, since the professor and I know each other from another philosophy class that I am currently taking, and I am quite the student in it. So by Monday morning, by the time I got to the old phil with E–, I knew that it was very likely that that was the last time I would be seeing him. And wasn’t it strange that both AP and MP weren’t there. It was just EP and me.

We were both early, and class wasn’t going to start for another ten minutes, so we chatted.

At some point in the conversation, I asked him what his plans were for next year, since he, too, was graduating.

Nothing really. Actually, I just recently got engaged–

Engaged! Engaged!

Yes, ha ha.

Engaged! Well, congratulations! My, how very grown up of you.

Yes, thank you. Ha ha.

Wow! Engaged. So you’re just going to live out your married life, eh?

Yeah, ha ha. 

And that was pretty much how the rest of the conversation went. He asked me what my plans were for next year, and I told him, “Well, not getting engaged!” I just couldn’t believe my ears. I wasn’t thinking about how I had really missed the boat this time but was actually thinking about the concept of marriage. Marriage! Of course, I do want to get married eventually, but I could never imagine myself doing so now.

Of course, I was by no means judging him for wanting to get married at 21. I was merely surprised. What struck me the most was that E– and his fiancée must truly be so in love with each other to want to get married at such a young age. That thought made me smile. I was truly happy for him. I felt that he had just shared something very valuable with me–that in that moment when he was telling me his story, he had somehow transferred a little of that feeling of love and happiness to me. It wasn’t love for me that he had transferred to me; it was the feeling of love–the universal, all encompassing, heart-stopping feeling of love– that he had transferred to me. It was a nice moment indeed.

After class, we said our goodbyes. I told him that he may or may not see me next class depending on whether I can switch out. He told me that he hopes that he doesn’t see me next class because then he’ll know that I’ll be happy and that will make him happy. I smiled and wished him all the best with his married life. And I really did and really do. Then we parted ways.

And there she goes, there she goes.

Yes, it was quite the bizarre experience indeed. And as I am writing these very words now, he is sitting in 1B36 and living his own life.

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