In Search of Nuit

After the requisite summer break, my delicate nerves were sufficiently restored to endure the start of Fall semester with its traditional two days of gay revelry provided by Admin. Easing the burden somewhat was wondering if I would see She in class again this year. A summer of strumming that Tanglewood kept her ever in mind, you know. Just a whisp maybe, yet always a "what-if."
 
But the Blonde Bomber (Dean of Sciences, with unsurprisingly no background in any of our fields) had other plans for me. She assumed that sobriquet thanks to her uncanny resemblance to Joanie Weston, the well-known Amazon roller derby queen from San Francisco. Far less endearing, however was that the Bomber had acquired the nasty habit of punctuating every other word I spoke with "um-huh" in return. Over and over again, never hearing anything I uttered due to her incessant vocal rattling which blotted out all semblance of dialogue. Kind of like trying to communicate whilst five roofers busily hammer shingles into place overhead. Um-huh. Um-huh. Um-huh...

After designing five new courses in more advanced mathematics for the school, the Bomber in her infinite wisdom decided I shouldn't be allowed to teach them due to my reputation of "this person worked hard for that F, so who am I to deny it to him?" At my school, all that mattered was tuition; ensuring students actually got something in return was simply pouring sand into the gearbox of academia. I was remanded to the nether-world of College Algebra. I later found out the so-called pre-engineering instructor was the one who put the bug in her ear. I also heard that he did miserably in his own college mathematical training and bore permanent psychological scars from the harrowing experience.

Gone! My favorite student, who had stated intentions to enroll in my Calculus I class, was now forced to take it at Potato State instead. Smart girl, that, no doubt the best option under the circumstances. However, it really did make me sad I couldn't be there with her when she encountered the glories of Newton and Leibniz, Cauchy and Weierstrass. Sort of like not being around when your offspring rises from the carpet to take his first step I would imagine. Gone!

I felt like George F. Babbitt:
Babbitt moaned, turned over, struggled back toward his dream. He could see only her face now, beyond misty waters.
Deep down inside I suspected there was an awful lot we had to say to each other. At least wondered if that might possibly be the case in some parallel universe.

So, it was back to life as it had been for all the previous centuries, or was it millennia? But then something funny happened when I turned 60, two years later. I shook the cowardice that had too long been part of my character in these latter days.

Imagine, if you will, that you wake up one morning to find yourself unbathed and disheveled, empty Thunderbird bottle still wrapped in a paper bag by your side, amidst countless other bums strewn across the sidewalks with you on Skid Row, and you have no idea how you got there.

You see, on my birthday the Salvation Army took me in, bathed me, gave me new clothes, a decent meal and turned me loose to embark on a Vita Nova, a new life. I screwed up a courage I didn't know was inside and said good-bye twice that spring, and with alacrity. Still can't believe it was me, and don't ask me to explain where the fortitude really came from. Part of it, and don't laugh, was ruing the loss of hedonism in my life which was slipping through my fingers (as it were). The other part was finding arousal again in conversation. The senses and language: humans are such slothful creatures, aren't they! If only I believed in transmigration of the souls, I'd promise not to waste the next incarnation.

On that birthday and for several months thereafter, for the first time in ages I felt like vandalizing a lavatory. Or fetching a ball-peen hammer at Tiny's bidding. Or pulling my trousers down. Or a million other things that were always part of me before and got lost under the whitewash of society.

1 Corinthians 13:11 admonishes:
When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.
That's totally fucked and almost did me in. Now, in that glorious spring, I finally worked up the courage to counter with Oscar Wilde's Lord Henry:
Ah! realise your youth while you have it. Don't squander the gold of your days, listening to the tedious, trying to improve the hopeless, or giving away your life to the ignorant, the common, and the vulgar...Live! Live the wonderful life that is in you!...Youth! Youth! There is absolutely nothing in the world but youth.
Yes, I turned the clock back, and both hands at once.

The summer enraptured, and a huge weight was lifted as I found that oh-so-important connection between senses and mind once again. And being free of that scrofulous college, if nothing else, did wonders for my outlook. But as Lord Henry noted,
Days in summer are apt to linger.
Or not. Isn't curious to think of a sociopath craving trust above all else?

They say that Prime Minister William Gladstone used to walk the streets of Whitechapel back in Jack the Ripper's day (much to the consternation of his party members) to pick up soiled doves, bring them home, feed them, find them jobs and start them on new lives. Most returned to the degradation of their former lifestyles, fearful of what freedom meant. 

Well, I for one, was not going to return to harlotry.

So now it is late autumn, dark by four, blustery, the harsh winds from the northwest withering language on its vine. Do you know the poem November by Thomas Hood?
No sun - no moon!
No morn - no noon -
No dawn - no dusk - no proper time of day.
No warmth, no cheerfulness, no healthful ease,
No comfortable feel in any member -
No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees,
No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds! -
November
!
In the kitchen one night (afternoon, really, though dark) I'm rallying around the oven. Even if alone, I figure cooking something decent for supper might cheer me. It's a lengthy meal to prepare, so to pass the time while it cooks, I plop down on the sofa (soon to become so important) and finger the Tanglewood.

Of course, you know who that made me think of.

I began wondering again. And a new-found sense of courage made me do something I wouldn't have a year previous.

Let me make this entirely clear. I was not suffering a midlife crisis and I was not on the rebound. I was simply reflecting on the Purloined Letter as I strummed that open B7th chord, one of the most beautiful ever invented. I was as brave as I was once before in my life, on Norton Street, before society nearly crushed my soul. I remembered and decided then and there.

A quick check on Google got the ball rolling. Hmm...we'd all like to think our names are unique, but given how overpopulated the planet is in our age, that's no longer the case. I found dozens and dozens of likely candidates. I noticed that many were on Facebook which I had joined just briefly. So I swung over there to see if I might localize the one I yearned for. I didn't realize it at the time, but this was a quest far more important than any I could have ever imagined.

A bit of sorting, here and there, a few pictures, a few descriptions, all mysterious. Some came close, some not so. Could She possibly be in that mix? I won't bore you with the interminable searching and deductions, but eventually I happened upon one Facebook entry that gave me hope. Not much to go on, other than she had attended Potato State.

And sported a profile picture of Nuit, the Queen of Space.

I had a good feeling about that and put in a Friend request. Next day, glory be, it was accepted and we were connected!

A couple brief messages back and forth to relive just a bit of our classroom encounters previously. Then She gave me the opening.

Mentioning mathematics in passing on her Facebook page, I commented with:
The mathematician's patterns, like the painter's or the poet's must be beautiful; the ideas, like the colours or the words must fit together in a harmonious way. Beauty is the first test: there is no permanent place in this world for ugly mathematics. 
This is from the great G. H. Hardy, of course, who had become my Cyrano (or vice versa). And my Roxane responded. I am not ashamed to have used someone else's tongue; it was all very natural, really.

A love letter of sorts to the only person in the world who would see it as such.

It took a couple months of correspondence while we each undraped our minds ever so slightly for each other in email (I having abandoned Facebook by January). But still, there was always the lingering doubt: would we ever be little more than instructor and pupil of times past? Didn't she sense we were way beyond that? I already knew that I so wanted to explore what was inside that cranium, and more. I also understood Crowley's,
Nothing can unite the divided but love.
A little bit of fidgeting that bright, bitter start to a new year. Including one final, lengthy email just hours before the veil of the temple was rent, kindly offering me an escape clause. But no longer the coward of two decades, I finally saw axioms for what they were. "I am prepared, at last," I thought, "to be my true self. But only for you."

Ding-dong. I sort of look out the windows, completely frosted over that frigid Saturday, wondering what I might find this February 1. No one there, I fretted, forgetting momentarily that Voltaire, too, was but 5'3" in height.

But swinging the door open, I couldn't believe my eyes at the stature before me, smiling, subtly of course. All the best mathematicians have always claimed that intuition is the greatest tool of all.

"We meet at last," I said.

Next installment: The Door as Metaphor

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