Violating feminist norms and my personal values, I fell “in love” with a student two years ago while teaching an introduction to sociology course at a college on the east coast. At least I think it was love.
A year and a half after our surreal, powerful and somewhat bizarre experience: he calls. I have waited for him to call. For a year and a half. I despise myself for conforming to this female trait. I wait for him. Why do I wait? What happened to my feminist politics? I’ve spent a year and a half reeling from the impact he had on my heart and analyzing what took place between us. As much as I enjoyed the connection, I feared it, doubted it, worried about it…
After the experience, I do a lot of thinking, reading, and writing. I read about power, perception, reality. I read about spirituality, soul connections, destiny, soul mates, and authentic selves. I read about creativity, gender differences, gender dynamics, sexual harassment, domestic violence, stalkers, and gender socialization in U.S. culture. I read about psychological disturbances, borderline personality disorder, identity, and love. I read about healthy relationships, unhealthy relationships, self-love, and the need for relationship and community. I read feminist critiques on the importance of learning through relationship and healing through connection. I read a great deal of social psychology which addresses childhood trauma, parental death, abuse, neglect, abandonment, and loss. I read about projection. I read about roles, ageism, sexism, classism, boundaries, professionalism, and the social construction of reality. I learn a lot.
Even after a year and a half, I want our connection back. But part of me fears that I imagined a connection that didn’t really exist and that I am in love with the idea of being in love rather than knowing love itself. Did I know him? Can one know someone in such a short time? Must I know myself completely first? Must I feel self-love before I can truly love another? Was I seeing who he was or who I wanted and needed to see?
Me, in love? Me: a woman who has never even been sure that there is such a thing as being in love.
“Why are you calling,” I ask first thing, our first contact by voice in a year and a half. He calls collect. He says the past is the past and now is the now. He says he never opened up like that to someone. His voice cracks when he says it. There are little pauses between the words, as if it is hard to get the words out. I want to fix those pauses; make them more fluid; more confident. I want to know more about what he means, who he is, how he got to be who he is. Does he even know? Does he want to travel that road?
I want to know what our relationship meant to him. Did it mean as much to him as it did to me? For some reason, though, I am frightened of the answer. Yet, on some level, I already know. I know that the feeling was mutual. How could it not be?
I thought you would never talk with me again, I tell him. That is what you said, I remind him.
He says he didn’t mean it.
His call gets all the old feelings and confusion stirred up in me again.
Then, societal voices in my head: you are old, overly imaginative, abusing your power; your behavior was inappropriate, you are immoral, and wrong. You are doing to a student what has been done to you when you were younger, and you cannot acknowledge it.
Psychological theories in my head: transference, baggage, intimacy issues. You don’t know how to have a real relationship, because you don’t know how to be a real adult. Because you don’t know and love yourself, and because of your own issues with power and abuse, you do what most victims of abuse do: you find a victim. You lack boundaries.
The sociologist in me teaches that reality is a social construct. Love may not exist. Humans create reality, which they then participate in as real. Romantic love is an idea, I teach in the classroom. But real love, I propose, real true love transcends time, space, age, race, gender, class, etc. The romantic in me, the idealist in me, says this. I break this idea to the students: we are all bisexual. The students revolt when they hear this. It is troubling enough for them to consider the notion that love may not exist. That love, as we are socialized into believing exists, is really just an idea. But then I add insult to injury with the proposal that since love is a social construct, love also can transcend traditional, socially constructed categories of race, class, gender. That idea is almost too much for the students to bear, too much for both the heterosexual majority and the few gays/lesbians in the class.
Roles are a social construct, a human creation, and it is possible that these roles serve the power elite, and the system, not us. This is what I teach. “Sometimes roles are necessary,” the functionalists in the classroom say.
“Anything is possible,” he tells me on the telephone a year and a half later; anything is possible, I could fall in love with a man, he says. He tells me it hasn’t happened yet. I wonder what he means after we hang up: is he trying to tell me he is gay? Or that he likes my ideas and has learned from them? Is he a so-called borderline case like me? Just as open to exploration as me? As artistically inclined? And therefore a “true artist,” since all true artists are bisexual.
While I fear that he may be drawn to men, I also respect this about him. How many young men in our culture can admit this? In fact, if he is gay, it is not as interesting as the fact that he is open to the possibility. This is the characteristic I admire most. Yet, despite my partial admiration, I want a concrete answer from him. I am a hypocrite: it’s ok for me to live in the realm of ambiguity and no answers, but the person form whom I have strong feelings? I want him to be sure and strong and concrete and aware and to only want me. Cultural conditioning? My gender socialization? A capitalist way of looking at another human being?
Why do you call, really: I have to know. I cannot stand it. Even though I know that my constant analysis is exhausting and demanding and too much at times. “Why can’t you have fun, just enjoy this,” he wants to know once upon a time. Instead of telling me how crazy and messed up I am, though, he tells me that my analytical ability is one of the best things about me. He says this in a soft gentle voice and I fall under his spell.
I don’t want to be under a spell. Later, I imagine that “just enjoy this” is translation for sex. He is a typical male, then, and transforms in my eyes; we are no longer spiritually and emotionally connected. I’ve been trained to think that men want just one thing. That is what my mother taught me. What did his mother teach him about women?
Was it real? I have to know. I have to know. That is the question I ask over and over again after “it’s over.” Was it real? This question has haunted me all my life about so many things, about everything, really…
In the meantime, he won’t talk to me. Says he can’t. Avoids me like the plague. I imagine I am repulsive, needy, desperate, clingy. I act as if I don’t care, and beyond that, I don’t want to care. I don’t want to feel the way I feel. I want to run away, but where is there to go?
What is it, he asked one night as we sat on the couch talking.
“When we are together time flies and the night disappears into the day and life feels blissful. I am not even tired,” he says, “even though we don’t sleep all night.”
“I feel energized,” he tells me.
I am energized, too. It is like a manic episode. I don’t know what to say, how to explain it, all I know is that I enjoy being with him. These are the symptoms of the love madness that people describe and that I avoid. Or symptoms of mania. I worry that he knows that I am in love with him and will use that to mess with my mind. When I tell him my fear, he says in his gentle tone of voice, “Is that what you think? Because that is not my intention.”
He leaves one morning to repair his relationship with his mother, who lives in another state. He is furious with his mother. But he does not want to be like me when he is my age. I haven’t talked with my mother in 17 years.
“I learn from other people’s mistakes,” he says while he looks away from me and I know he is referring to me. When he returns after two weeks of visiting his mother, he calls me, and then we play phone tag but never connect.
When I don’t get to speak with him directly, doubt returns. Fear returns. I call him on his answering machine and scream, don’t call me ever again. I hang up. A shadow is cast. The mesmerizing spell is now mixed with the most horrid existential angst and despair.
I don’t really mean don’t talk to me again. What I mean is: I am hurt by the fact that you appear not as excited to see me as I am to see you and it frightens me and I cannot explain it. The truth is: I am terrified. But I don’t tell him this.
In the ideal society I try and create in the classroom, I encourage students to be honest at all times and to imagine a world where honesty prevails. So much confusion could be absolved if people were honest, I tell the students, as if I am a wise guru who practices honesty at all times.
And, at one point, the two of us promised, if nothing else, to be honest with one another. We decided that it would make the world a better place. “I’ve never done this before,” I remember him saying happily, and rather child-like, upon our commitment to 100% honesty with one another.
I am not honest at all.
After I call him to tell him never to call me again, I call him back within the week and tell him I am sorry; I am trying to clean up my end of the situation, I say.
“I want you to know after this semester, I am leaving the state. I am moving back home,” I tell him. He says he is sorry too. What he is sorry for, I am not sure.
After that, I call him repeatedly. I am insane. My behavior is out of character. It feels like I have turned into a stalker. I wait for him to talk with me, to shed light on the interactions between us. Why do I wait for a man to define my reality? I am a wreck before I call him, anticipating rejection, fearful that he hates me, that he is repulsed by me, that he doesn’t want me to know that he is not interested in me at all. I fear that he lied to me and the depth we experienced together was a figment of my imagination. But I must know. Was he messing with my mind? Why? Does he hate women, is he a misogynist? Am I a way for him to get revenge on women, on his mother? I act out of character by calling, by feeling the way that I feel, by obsessing; I am in character by analyzing our every action, by reading things into the tone of his voice.
He is my friend, I tell myself, a soul friend. Why would I be so afraid to call a soul friend?
Then: at one point, I almost have him convinced to come to my house so we can talk. I hear hesitation in his voice and I interpret this as a rejection; as a way to let me down slow; so I tell him, well, you don’t have to if you don’t feel like you can. I don’t want you to do anything that is uncomfortable for you. I let him off the hook. So he doesn’t come over. In a way, I am relieved.
But: I continue to call and he continues to avoid me. I will contact you when I am ready, he tells me. Why can’t you wait until I am ready, he asks. This infuriates me. The day before I move out of state, I call him and he answers. All I want to know is: was it for real, were you for real? Yes, he says, with a sigh and resignation in his voice. Then, the next hard question: is it because I am your teacher? No, he says, but this time I hear disgust. And then, finally, I cannot resist. I say: it’s about power, isn’t it—it’s about power. You want to have power over women. At this point, he snorts into the telephone and hangs up on me.
I get confused: what issues are mine, what issues are his. How did I get here? How could I allow someone to get under my skin like this, a student, no less, who is ten years younger than me.
I want the interactions back but I am angry with myself: I am older, have more formal education, and am caught up in this twisted dynamic and obsession and quest for his presence and for truth.
Why is it that I need him to define the truth of the relationship? Why can’t I define it for myself? It is possible, I inform myself, that he doesn’t know what is going on, and I am the one with the insight, if I would stop doubting myself.
It is possible that he doesn’t have the language to interpret our interactions. He may just be responding to my cues. And that is about power, on my end, not his.
For a year and a half his voice is inside of me. I convince myself that because he is a musician, he is what my students define as a “player,” and I have fallen for his antics. I tell myself that he says these kinds of things to everyone, and I am prey. I am too old for this nonsense, I tell myself. I had bad experiences with men when I was younger, but I am in a different place now, and it is not the same. I tell myself I am reacting to him as if I were the young woman who I used to be but no longer am.
You are ok when I am here, he says. It is when I am not here physically with you that the problem occurs. And I know it might be possible, because I have heard this before from other people. It is in the absence of others that my mind goes wild, and I think the worst of people then.
And when I am too intense, and not able to enjoy the moment, and cannot stop my analytical ability and ceaseless questioning, he asks: Is this something you want to change about yourself? The question perpetuates the spell. No one has ever asked me questions in this manner. What he asks is posed as a question, rather than framed as a flaw.
He once told me that he tells people what they want to hear. When I asked him if that is what he does with me, he said no. “But I can see why you would think that, since I told you that is what I do,” he said in that same hypnotic voice that I am drawn to and fearful of.
He doesn’t come back to class. I don’t blame him. I continue teaching the rest of the semester, in guilt. This is why professors should not get involved with students. I have committed a crime, and in the world’s mind, I am to blame, not him. I have acted out my issues with him, and he is the innocent victim. I have abused my power—the very thing that I am most opposed to in life. I feel sick about what I’ve done.
To justify my position, I remind myself that he had already dropped out of all his other classes anyway and out of college, as he wanted to be a musician, not a student. “Yours is the only class I come to,” he tells me.
Before the falling out, I asked him if he felt I had power over him and he said no. Then he said he would drop out of class but still come if it made me feel better. No, I reply; that would make me feel worse.
Secretly I wonder: who has the power to define the situation? Even if he says that he is not affected by my position of power, does that mean it is true? And if he is not affected, why not? Is it because I am so good at undermining my own power? Who decides?
I finally fess up to my shrink, who tells me that I have done the wrong thing and that I know it on some deep level. You have language that he doesn’t have, my shrink says, and I shrink in shame. Is it true? To me he seems to have a great deal of language. He comes from an upper middle class family, writes song lyrics, and uses words I don’t even know the meaning of. He can talk ideas and politics. He has class privilege. I don’t.
The therapist tells me that my student is in love with me and he cannot handle it, cannot deal with it. This is hard for me to believe. I imagine that the therapist tells me what I want to hear. Then: I imagine that the therapist is in love with me and that he projects his own feelings onto me. Then I think I think too much and that I am a narcissist, because I make the world revolve around me. I am everything yet nothing at the same time.
“I think I remind you of yourself when you were younger,” he says to me one night before I ax the relationship. And it is true, he does. We have many similar characteristics, we are wanderers, rebels, questioners, destructive substance- abusers at times, free-spirits but tormented. We both struggle with depression and self-hatred. We both yearn for a different way of life. We are anti-establishment, anti-corporate, loners, writers, and full of contradictions. It is acceptable to be this way when you are 20. It is not at 30. That is the societal mindset. It is normal to question your identity and to experiment when you are 20. But when you are 30 the world expects you to know who you are, what you want, where you are headed, and how to explain where you’ve been.
But I know nothing.
I write letter after letter to him throughout the summer. I explain why I ran. I explain my fears, my baggage, my worries that I abuse my power.
No response. Each day I wait. But no response.
I write again, in anger: you are just like my mother, I tell him. You reject me over and over again by your lack of response, and you don’t care. I am trying to relive/fix my childhood by getting you to interact with me. This is what I write in my letters to him.
Still, no response.
I imagine he was happy in the moment but that moment is over and now he has changed his mind but doesn’t know how to tell me. I imagine the latter because that is how I am too. Projection, that’s what it’s called. Because I change my mind all the time. So, I imagine everyone else does it as well. And because I think he is more like me than not, I think I know him. And this is the frightening and painful aspect. In one of the letters I write to him, I tell him that interacting with him is like an encounter with myself and I don’t like it a bit. I am on the receiving end of myself and I hate it. I don’t know if this is true, but I know this is what it feels like. I write this too.
Still, no response.
I then write scathing critiques about gender and power and male socialization which cause inequality and injustice. I send my sociological critiques to him as well.
Still, no response.
In the meantime, I dream of him. I try and imagine what he is doing, if he misses me, if he thinks of me, and for the first time, I understand all the song lyrics which sing of love. I imagine each song lyric I hear is from him to me—whether the song is about loving, loss, or beautiful moments that are now over.
The first night we spend together, he says he wants to tell me something. No, he says, and changes his mind. Some things are better left unsaid. I am, of course, dying to know what he means but he refuses to tell me. I sense he wants to say that we have a soul connection but he doesn’t think it should be verbalized. That night I tell him I tire of people easily and everyone invades my space. I hate it when people call me too much, want too much from me, I tell him. I won’t call you too much, he says.
No games, he says. Games? This is a new concept for me. I don’t know what he means and I cannot imagine myself playing a game. I cannot imagine myself in the game of love, of life, a player, someone who plays a cat and mouse game in the name of love. He tells me he wants a life-long partner, and someone to challenge him. That he has a lot of respect for strong women, and he respects his sister for this reason. He says that relationships give life meaning. This is a new concept for me. I never thought about things like that before. I just think life is meaningless altogether, most of the time. Yes, there is beauty in the moment, but beyond that? People come and go and you can never count on anyone, and life is just life; a mystery, and ultimately meaningless. The meaning is in the creation, and the creation is a human construct; and people just make up stuff in order to get through life, this is what I think, but I am intrigued with his ideas.
I imagine that he uses our interactions to write great songs…but this intimidates me, too. I fear the impact he has had on me and then I hate myself for feeling fear, for setting myself up for loss and pain, for not being normal, for having suffered so much in my life, for refusing to buy into this relationship-as-meaning story. He tells me that he hopes to hear from me…hopes I will call him the next day. This, too, frightens me. What will I say? What does he want? Then I think: if I say what is really going on in my head, he will find me insane, insecure, needy.
We spend more nights together. Then, I worry. Where is this going? Too much, too fast, too soon, doesn’t seem healthy. I put on the brakes. Later, I explain why. He agrees. Doesn’t seem healthy, he says, echoing my concern: we are not sleeping, and we talk all night. My sense of reality is altered, everything has changed, he tells me. And I feel the same. This doesn’t seem right, I say.
He begins to disappear from me once I put on the brakes.
Throughout all this, there is no physical contact. I tell him of my past experiences with promiscuity, and then the next day I feel embarrassed that I told him.
Knowing what I know now about my past, I understand I played the role I did in sexual interactions because I didn’t realize I had a right to my own body, a right to say no. I didn’t know how to be authentic when dealing with someone sexually. I tell him this. I tell him that I was promiscuous, in part, because of sexual abuse in my past. I then feel embarrassed that I told him this. He seems to not understand why I am embarrassed. I want to know those things, he says, and his spirit comforts me.
When he is with me he is with me like no one has ever been. I tell him he is the best therapist I ever had. He tells me that he is having a Zen moment as we sit in silence on the couch at 6 in the morning, watching the sun rise. We joke about billing blue cross for the therapeutic effect he has on me. We imagine what they would say and it is fun and funny. “I feel my feelings when I am with you,” I tell him, and he says, I know what you mean. I tell him, again, that I am comforted in a way that I never have been before by another human being. No one has ever understood what I meant and how I felt before.
“You are not telling the truth when you say that you don’t want to be close,” he says one night as we stand on the porch smoking, looking out over the ocean, smelling the first hints of summer. What? I back away, shiver. I act as if I don’t understand what he means, but it feels as if he can see right through me.
“You asked the class if they thought it was ok for students to sleep with their professors,” he said, and he added that his friends think I was referring to him. I tell him no, that I always ask that question…because I can use it for data. Because typically the women in the class say no its not ok, and men say its ok and I find it interesting from a sociological perspective. We can examine gender and power using student responses as sociological data, I say. But he thinks it is about him, and while it is, I lie. Another lie. From the so-called honest person. Because, while it is true, I do always ask that question, but at that point I was referring to him. Funny how I needed 200 students to respond to this so I could analyze it, and perhaps get permission to go against social norms.
I didn’t sleep with him. Not even a kiss. Our last night together, at about 4 a.m., I retreated to take out my contacts, and when I returned, he was lying on the couch. I don’t know how it happened, but I ended up on the couch with him, wrapped in him, feeling safe and blissful and, dare I say it: loved. For the first time in my life. When he tried to kiss my neck, I told him it wasn’t a good idea at all, and he backed off. We lay in each other’s arms into the morning. You are beautiful, I tell him, and he says the same to me. The moment is beautiful. It is a moment I have never experienced before. It felt like pure bliss, pure acceptance, universal love, peace, and all the things people yearn for but don’t seem to find.
One night I say: I love you. I cannot believe it comes out of my mouth.
“I know,” he says.
Yes, and for the first time I don’t feel like I have to say it back, he says. I know that this is supposed to be a compliment, and significant of the fact that he feels no pressure to lie and claim love when it is not there, at least this is how I perceive it.
Enter Major Baggage. The baggage takes over. I think I don’t deserve anything more; I don’t want someone to pretend but at the same time I also don’t want to pretend that I don’t care about his lack of response. Instead of talking about it, though, I retreat into myself, and this is the beginning of the end.
He asks a series of questions which I don’t answer. “How come you move away from me when I sit by you?” (Because I fear you will see my flaws and find me disgusting.) Why, why, why, he asks me, and I often don’t know: “Why do you think everything is your fault?” and “Why do you take responsibility for my stuff?” and: “Do you think you don’t deserve it?” (Meaning our love; our friendship; our relationship.) And he asks, “How come you don’t think that you will get tired of me and disappear?” and “Why do you think that I will be the one to leave?”
How awful I am, when on some level I know how sensitive he is, how much he craves deep connection. How could I perceive him as sensitive and a monster? Which is he? Or is he both?
His art and being inspires me but I wonder, in part, if this is because he lacks a strong identity so I am able to project my best self onto him. I see in him my reflection and wonder if I feel enamored not really with him but with the good traits in myself that I have denied and rejected. To love and accept him is to love and accept myself.
And so, a year and a half later, he calls, and I’ve waited so long, but I’m no longer sure I know him, not sure I ever did, and my baggage is still here, and I want to see him but feel ashamed of my appearance and age and fears and doubts and pain and yearning, but I feel as strongly as ever for him because the feelings never went away, and I want to see him but I’m scared and second-guess his motivations and why he called, and it is true that I love him in my own way whatever that means, and I still have no explanation for what happened between us, but I know I miss him terribly, but fear him still…
He tells me many things. He has no partner. He has been in Europe. He is very excited about his sister’s new baby, his first nephew, for which he will be the godfather. He is starting a new band. His father is getting married. He wishes his friend would fess up to his homosexuality.
Did you receive my letters from last summer, I ask, thinking that he could take the easy way out and say no; at least, that way, he would have no excuse for not writing back. But he doesn’t lie. He says yes.
I have your telephone number now, he says, and I will keep it close, will keep it on me. He didn’t have the number before. After he tells me his news, he says he thought I had tired of him. That is why he stopped talking to me. Why did you think that, I want to know but don’t dare ask. And in a way, I know: because I told him that I tired of people…so when I was angry at him he thought I had tired of him the way I told him I tired of everyone else in my life.
I acted like a maniac, I say. No, he says in that same deeply compassionate hushed voice that keeps the spell going. No, and this is where he says: I never opened up like that to someone before, and his voice cracks. And then I say: I was too hard on you, pushed you too hard, you weren’t ready. I learned so much from you, I tell him. “Really?” he says, and he sounds as if he cannot believe it. He says he called to tell me that the good outweighed the bad and I am happy to hear it because for me it is the same.
I didn’t think you would ever talk to me again, I tell him again. No, no, he says. Shhhhhh. That is what I hear in the word no: Shhhhh. Everything will be ok. But it is said in a soothing way, in a comforting way, in a loving and nurturing way, not in a patronizing way. And that is why I get so confused. He is out of my script. The tone of his voice soothes me, but it angers me at the same time, because I feel that I am once again caught up in what he says and how he says it, and the spell becomes stronger, the pull towards him becomes stronger, and I don’t want to be the sort of person who is sucked into someone else because they have a gift to soothe. I don’t want to be sucked into the feelings that I have because I need comfort, reassurance, and validation.
I imagine he thinks that there is no rush, that good things are worth waiting for. Because when you are 20, you have your whole life ahead of you. But from my perspective, time is fragile and fleeting. Doesn’t he understand that we have limited time on this earth? He doesn’t have all the time in the world to pick up the pieces of a fragmented relationship. People die everyday; dying is a part of life. I could be dying, or so could he and I couldn’t/wouldn’t want to live with this unresolved issue if I were him. That is what I think.
He tells me he has been depressed and unable to get out of bed. I feel he is emulating me which confuses me. He is my reflection in the mirror, always. I want him to feel that he can talk to me. I imagine he cannot get out of bed because of the severing of our connection, and this makes me feel sad.
I tell him: you sound different. You don’t sound the same. “I don’t?” he asks, seeming surprised. I feel the same, he says. Then, he suggests that it wouldn’t be possible to reproduce the emotional connection we have over the telephone. This comforts me just like I am comforted by his use of words in general and the soothing tone of his voice. Yet his use of language sounds so upper middle class to me, and this bothers me. It triggers yet more issues for me. I hate his trip to Europe and his upper middle class privilege and his assumptions that the world is his to explore.
“You make me deal with things I run from,” he says. “You make me deal with things that I don’t want to face.”
“Through our interactions, I learned so much about myself,” he says. And I say: my god, so did I. And he says: you did? And he sounds shocked! I want to scream: didn’t you read my letters; didn’t you hear me, don’t you see me? That is what I tried to tell you for so long! That you taught me. How could you think that I didn’t learn from you? I learned more from you than I have from anyone in my life! That is what I want to say, but I don’t. I fear that my intensity is too much for him. And I am sad that he thinks so poorly of himself that he cannot imagine what a true teacher he really is. I am sad for myself as well.
He wants to send me song lyrics, because they are anti-corporate and I will be impressed. We are in the political struggle against global domination imperialism, and injustices of all kinds, and we use various methods to get our messages out in the world.
I imagine that our way of interacting starts a whole new way of being in the world. And the world changes. Love, peace, and justice abound.
We were just the seeds of a social movement.
I tell him of the horrid death of my stepfather, which I’ve wanted to tell him about for almost a year, and about the fire that killed him, and he says: that’s awful, and I hear it in his voice that he is once again with me in my pain and he knows that it is awful and for a moment, I don’t feel as alone.
“The problem with our relationship is that we had nowhere to go from where we were,” I say. We were in uncharted territory. And now we are again. We could use the social constructs and societal roles to chart our way, but it wouldn’t be the authentic way, if there even is such a thing.
At this point he reminds me that everything and/or anything is possible. He is open to possibility. This inspires me and frightens me because I want to capture him and cage him to a particular viewpoint/stance and commitment. I want the truth as if such a thing exists…because I cannot stand to hang in this space…yet, paradoxically, I know that only this hanging in space is true. I want to capture him even though I hate it when someone tries to capture me, categorize me, define me.
And this reminds me that life is fluid, always changing, and that the human spirit doesn’t want to be captured, constrained, restrained, categorized, defined. Language, philosophy, and ideas can only go so far. Spirit is stronger than material reality, and deeper than words.
I can say, and he can say: I am not sorry. That is why he called. To tell me that he wasn’t sorry. That our experience together caused him to think, to change and transform. Yes, he experienced pain, turmoil, and confusion due to our relationship, but we both grew and learned. And I am not sorry, and I know he is not sorry. I believe him here. And I needed to hear this. I have lived this long, in part, to hear this: that he is not sorry.
I realize we defied society’s norms and ethics and that the question of right and wrong is not easily answered. To me, he was officially my “student”…but, really, if I transcend societal ideas, then I realize that he was truly my teacher.