I knew of him for several years before we officially met. I was just a kid, really. He seemed so exotic and worldly back then. We had just one class together in high school but neither of us paid much attention to one another. Our relationship didn’t get serious until college, when I found him in several of my classes. Truth be told, I sought him out, choosing at least one class each quarter where I knew we could spend time together. His mysterious complexity intrigued me, such a contrast to my youthful innocence.
One would think that we’d be friends after all the time we’ve spent together over the decades, but he’s become my nemesis. Each time we’re together, all the old hard feelings are set aside as we begin to get to know each other again. A month or two passes and it seems like things will really work out this time. I try hard, investing time and energy. The more I try, the more distant he becomes. It seems unnecessarily complicated. Next come the misunderstandings, hurt, and confusion. Frustrations build. I don’t know what to do, so I try everything. It’s too much. Everything’s wrong. Eventually we part with feelings of disappointment and inadequacy. Each time, the same. As time passes, the scars fade. We reconnect, continuing the cycle. I see it. I know it. Yet I keep going back.
We’ve been apart for several years this time, but I know he hasn’t really gone anywhere and neither have I. I tell myself that I can get along without him. I am strong and independent and resourceful and clever. My life without Al is peaceful and satisfying. I don’t need the stress, tears, and self-doubt that our encounters create.
Truthfully, I hate him. I also need him. While I have attended several colleges and have accumulated more than enough credits, I have never asked any of them for a degree. They have each accommodated me by not providing one. The single remaining obstacle to completing the college degree I began all those years ago is Al G. Bra. Until we reach an understanding, Al and I, there will always be that bit of unfinished business. I must reluctantly admit that we’ll likely meet again someday, continuing the familiar, tragic cycle.
Here’s another little story for the Geist Postcard contest. I just can’t seem to keep myself from submitting. Surely, they’ll cut me off soon.
This was actually a very hard story for me to write because it has been a sensitive topic for me for many years. The story is simple enough, but there was a lot of real emotion to get through as the words appeared on the page.
I found this photo on the Mental Floss website. This was the caption:
1955: A student leafs through a book in the Bennet Library at the Wyoming Seminary, a prep school in Northern Pennsylvania.