It was 1990 and I was 25 and in Paris, on a Ferris wheel. I had the world by the tail.
Why did we all think enormous t shirts were a good idea? And you see that smudge on my chin? When I got back home and showed this photo to my boyfriend at the time, he may or may not have gotten the ashes of an illegal substance on it. Thanks.
Anyway, I was in college, STILL, because it took me seven years to get through college, as I kept dropping out whenever I felt like it, plus I had to pay for a lot of college myself and financial aid was hard to come by and you can KEEP CALLING ME AT DINNERTIME, MICHIGAN STATE, but I will NEVER FORGET how hard you made it to get financial aid and you will never get a dime from me. I told you so then and I mean it. Mean.it.
My point is, I had this English professor and he was a real arrogant hard-arse and he was brilliant and he was terribly mean to people. One guy in class was named Tommy. The professor was reading Tommy’s paper and the paper was questioning all the mysteries of life and the professor said said, “The real mystery of life is why would someone who’s 20 years old still refer to himself as ‘Tommy’?” I mean, he did stuff like that.
But he made you think. He made you sit still in the grass when class was done, stunned, and think, and I desperately wanted him to believe I was smart, which I wasn’t sure I was. I signed up for every class he taught.
I was walking home from one of his classes one afternoon when it occurred to me to pull out my paper he’d handed back to me, and written across the top it read, “See me about a small scholarship to London.”
I can honestly tell you it was one of the best moments of my life.
And it was a SMALL scholarship. But it was a chance to go to London with this guy and study all summer with a group of other students. We stayed in Regent’s Park, and we read and discussed a bunch of books. I remember one of them was called The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner. I remember it because I was an actual long-distance runner then, and I’d wake up every morning in my little dorm in Regent’s Park and run long distances through said park. The London Zoo was in that park, and I’d run past the animals, and some of them would run the distance of their cages with me.
Some of us decided to go to Paris for the weekend, and hello. How cool is it that you can just decide to go to Paris for a weekend? The girl I stayed with, Jen, referred to Notre Dame as “that big church,” so when it came time to go to the Louvre, I asked if I could go alone. I cried the entire day. You really need a week and a half to go to the Louvre.
I ran into Professor Penn once after I graduated. He told me if I didn’t write, I would die. My soul would just die.
I wonder what he’d think of my dumb blog?