i came down to tallahassee all self-congratulatory. i got through tsa, i got on the plane, i didn’t squeal during take off, i sprinted across charlotte airport to make my connecting flight, i said “i’m a world traveler” and then i swaggered into tallahassee.
justin picked me up in his white volkswagon beetle. he got lost on the way back to his condo. several times the sort of lost where he wandered into the left turn lane without a signal and then sort of stopped and announced “no, i want to turn right”. . . . i wanted to call either of the pilots of the day and say “excuse me, could you drive?”
and then i listened. and listened. i timed last night a forty minute monologue which was only terminated with me saying “yes” in response to a question. i started the stop watch again. twenty three minutes. but then i had to go to the bathroom. today, we took a tour of the campus. we went to his office. he told me again and again that the pictures a man keeps in his office explain the man: and he walked me through almost every photograph before i excused myself to cry in the bathroom. then i returned. and he told me that he wanted to tell me about other photographs. i returned to the bathroom.
chomsky. linguistics. scuba diving. particulars of french civilization. things he had discovered about sex when he was sixteen years old. medical advances. his teaching assistants. television shows he had watched. dreams he had had. if i interrupted with a question or an aside, he would either tell me that it was his turn to talk or that he would get to my question later. i finally gave up. we got lost on the campus of the college where he teaches. we returned to the condo. i went to cry in the guest bedroom. he’s lost his wallet and he’s got some physical problems that are troubling. i asked him if he talks nonstop with barbara, his wife who is now in orlando, or with his daughter casey and he said no, but that he trusts me with vital information about himself. all in all, he clocked nine and a half hours before i did something so cruel i am quite astonished with myself. i interrupted him with an announcement that i had stage four cancer and that both joseph and eastman had been dead for three weeks. i pray that i have not tempted fates. i confessed my lie. he simply took up where i had interrupted him. he lasted eleven hours before i announced i had to go to bed. i locked the bedroom door. he stood outside and talked for a while longer. i put in ear plugs and went to sleep.