I suppose it’s clear enough that I am what they call a late bloomer. Plenty bright about the things that come from books. Plenty dim about the things that have to do with people. Ingenuous would be the kindest term. Dorky would be most accurate. I just didn’t get the most basic things, like why I should have left my knee socks home when I went to college. At eighteen, this late bloomer was still a seedling deep inside.
Susan, on the other hand, was a woman no question. She had found her feet, her soul, her mind. She walked down the hall with ease and talked with confidence and calm. She wore her clothes in contrast to the way my clothes wore me. Her roommate, Lisa, came in like me and by the semester’s end had changed into a woman too. Susan had a magic way with people. Like me, Susan was going to be a teacher. Her choice was high school. Mine was primary school.
I don’t think we had a conversation ever, but we must have. Maybe it was the passing friendship I had with Lisa that brought Susan and I in contact now and then. Who remembers that far back? She used the bathroom at the other end of the hall, so interaction wasn’t regular or natural.
But one day when my late bloomer state had left me feeling quite confused, I was walking back to my dorm room and Susan stopped me. I suppose something about my walk or my look must have telegraphed my feelings. That she stopped me shows what kind of person she was.
For what seemed no reason she said, “You know I’ve noticed you have this childlike quality. It’s very rare and valuable. Hold on to it. Don’t ever lose it.”
That could be the moment I began believing there are angels everywhere.
I’d give a whole lot to find Susan to remind her of what she said to me. So that I could tell her. I did my very best to make sure that I never did.
—me strauss Letting me be