I took calculus at 7:30 a.m., four times a week.
"Took calculus" is an exaggeration. I mostly ate the free breakfast provided to me by the good taxpayers of Illinois and wrote dumb fiction in my notebook.
(This is, for the record, the year that got me kicked out of school.
It was not a good year, at all.)
And every time I got a C on a test, I’d go into the professor’s office because that’s what you did when you were getting a C, and I’d say “I don’t know what’s wrong with me,” and he’d say “don’t worry, you’re good”.
All year long. I’d show up in his office, shivering in a heavy sweater even on warm days, dark eyes, polite. Apologetic. C+. Homework un-done.
"You’re good," he’d say.
(He looked a little like a walrus. Just for context. And your visual needs.)
And then it was May and I was going to fail and I was in his office and he told me “you’re good,” and I said “if I was good, I wouldn’t be failing, would I,” and he laughed and said “oh, I didn’t mean good at math”.
All year long.
"I didn’t mean good at math".
When I think about high school, it was a single week-long period in which a whole group of wonderful people let me be their friend and I was in love with a girl who wanted to hold my hand (not for the same reason that I wanted to hold her hand, but it was enough) and we all laid in the sun atop a concrete slab in the middle of campus.
I forget, usually, that I failed that final. He passed me, anyway. I don’t know why.
At the top of my list of goals is to go back and speak to that high school, but what would I even say?
You don’t have to be good at math, you just have to be good.
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