It's weird to realize that you're admired. It always comes out of the blue, too. You're never prepared to hear someone tell you, "You know what? I've always thought you were great." I think it's because we spend so much time with ourselves and there's a little ghoul inside of us saying, "You have bad breath, you're not very creative and I know you don't think you have cankles but you do."
Recently I was perusing Facebook, like I do, and a friend from my ole' college days (as though it was that long ago) started utilizing the Facebook Chat. Generally when someone starts talking to me, I immediately go offline and pretend to not be there because I don't have the patience to have a conversation when all I want to do is look at pictures of a Spring Break trip to Cancun. Here's a picture of a girl and a boy with cans of Miller Light. Here's a dozen pictures of the same girl with various boys holding one or two cans of Miller Light. Here's a picture of two girls kissing. And yet--I'm mesmerized. I just keep clicking and just see everyone's eyes get more and more glazed.
This girl wanted to tell me how cool she thought I was when we were in classes together. She always thought I had the most intelligent things to say and she loved it when I would discuss something in class. I intimidated her. That's nothing but comical to me because I remember mostly never reading the required material and even less often, having any thoughts on it. Occasionally our professor would call on me and I would say, "I don't know" about a hundred times until he forced me to come up with a position. So, I would use my fingers to talk and mostly regurgitate what other students had said until I finally began to understand what I was talking about and then decide. It's important, when talking about literature to use phrases like, "situational irony" and "existential crisis" often. So, that's what you do. Sometimes the professor tries to steer you to a real point but sometimes you nail it. I nailed it a few times but usually just rambled until he let me shut up. The ghoul pops up and says, "You idiot. What are you doing with your life? This is all a waste." And then someone else says, "I'm with Libby..." And the ghoul says, "Wait--what?"
I think she only remembered the times that I accidentally nailed it and ignored the times that I rambled in concentric circles until my eyes rimmed red and Professor Ness had mercy on me before I was reduced to a puddle of my own bodily secretions. I really do think he did that on purpose sometimes. Which is fine, I don't think you can really do well in a Ness class unless you're terrified and pinning for his approval. I had his approval, he loved me. I just didn't know it until very recently when I saw him at the Bluestem release party. He was excited to see me, and that guy doesn't get excited--not that I've ever seen anyway. When I was in South Dakota, I wrote to him a few times after I read The Little Prince. I remember that he read a section of it to our World Lit class and he had to stop and have himself a little cry. I told him that I read it and I remembered how it was so powerful in class (Honestly, though, after class we all just said to one another "what just happened in there?"). He wrote back that his friend gave him that book and they bonded over it so intimately and fell in love. For their honeymoon, they backpacked through New Zealand or Australia or something fantastic like that for six months. Falling in love over a French children's book--that's what sappy indie films are made of.
Hearing that you're cool is nice. It's impossible to believe, however, on account of the damn ghoul. He will always pop up and try to ruin everything. At the time, you think he's being realistic but he's not. He makes some good points from time to time and it does give you some realistic perspective but if there's anything I've learned from my dear Jamie--it's that it's ok to know what you're awesome at. But reminders are so nice and unexpected and make doing the rest of the day, a little more fun. It helps you to stand up straight.