The following story is part of a new feature, the serialization of our columnist Wayne Weedon’s fictional work, Vectors. Wayne is a brilliant writer whose style consists of simple declarative statements that stick in your mind as he leads you through an intricate web of circumstances to reach the lesson he set out to teach.
Chapter 2: Out with the Old and in with the New
After a few more lessons with Mr. Graham, I began to see algebra, geometry, and trigonometry in a different way. His methods of problem solving are completely different from what I had previously learned in high school. He told me, when a student cannot learn, it is not the student’s fault, but the teacher’s fault. The teacher must present the subject so the student can understand it. He said schools teach with the belief one shoe fits all, and they only teach one way of dealing with a subject. Mr. Graham explained, the instructor must approach the subject in different ways to see which one gives the individual student an understanding.
As mathematics began to make sense, I started to understand physics. Mr. Graham stated emphatically, without knowing the principles of basic mathematics, one could never understand physics. In only a few weeks, I started passing the biweekly physics tests in my class. I noticed my professor started watching me closely during these tests. I got the feeling he thought I might be cheating.
When I told Mr. Graham I was having difficulty writing papers and using the correct MLA style with a proper works cited page, et cetera, he showed me some easy ways to do this. He explained how Microsoft Word has a store of templates and tutorials to make things easier. He also showed me how Word automatically sets up the bibliography and works cited pages. It felt like I was cheating, but Mr. Graham asked, why would anyone do things the hard way if there were easier ways. Soon, my tutor was helping me in all my subjects, and I started doing a lot better in school, especially after he taught me simple ways to stop procrastinating.
Mr. Graham said, each day a person should do at least one thing they did not feel like doing but knew they should do. He emphasised this is the only way to train the body to obey the will. He suggested I should begin with easy tasks such as jumping out of bed as soon as the alarm sounds, or washing dishes immediately after eating rather than letting them pile up. I tried his suggestions, and I admit they work.
Mr. Graham and I were meeting at university until he suggested, since we lived just a short distance from each other on Saint Mathews Avenue, we could meet at his apartment. We agreed. With my roommates and their boyfriends, there would be too many distractions at my apartment.
When I arrived at his suite, I was a bit apprehensive. He lived by himself, and I thought he was almost old enough to be my father. Although, he was in his thirties, he was slim and energetic, more so than any twenty-year-old boys I knew. Some of my girlfriends thought, with his energetic physique, blue eyes, and blonde curly hair, he was sexy. That first day I became anxious when he closed the door behind me. After a few visits though, I grew more comfortable, and I even began looking forward to our sessions. He always had tea and something to eat for the two of us.
My life changed one Thursday. I was planning to go to Winkler for my brother’s birthday and I arranged to catch a ride after school to spend the weekend at home. During the day I started feeling so ill I thought I might vomit. I told my driver I had to cancel, I was too sick and the thought of driving on the highway made me nauseous. I walked back to my apartment. When I came through the door, I could hear voices. I thought it was my two roommates, but when I entered my bedroom, I found my boyfriend in bed with one of my roommates. A screaming match ensued ending with me stomping out of the apartment with a suitcase full of my belongings. It was not unusual for me to react first and think later, often when it was too late to backtrack.
In my anger, I hadn’t considered, I had nowhere to spend the night. This realization made me feel even sicker. Mr. Graham’s place was close by, and, without thinking, I automatically went to his apartment. Up until then I hadn’t realized how much of a friend he was to me.
As soon as he opened the door I burst into tears. I had not realized how much stress I was under. It was as if I was having a mental breakdown. Mr. Graham supported me as I staggered to the couch where he helped me to lie down. He then covered me with a quilt. I was shaking and crying uncontrollably. He gently laid a cold cloth over my forehead and stroked my hair as I sobbed.
Eventually I calmed down and Mr. Graham got up to make a pot of tea. He brought the tea things over to the couch and I sat up with the quilt wrapped around me. The tea was weak, and it seemed to calm my stomach and soothe my nerves. I told him the whole story. I related how I had felt too sick to travel back home and how I caught my boyfriend and my roommate together in my bed. He listened calmly without interruption or comment. Eventually I laid down again while he quietly stroked my head. I fell asleep.
When I woke up, looking into his bedroom, I could see Mr. Graham making up his bed with fresh sheets. These were white sheets with blue and yellow flowers. I thought how nice they looked but not the sort of sheets I expected a man to have. I remembered this later when I questioned his sexual orientation.
When he came back into the sitting area, seeing I was awake, Mr. Graham stated he could tell I was upset and quite ill. He said, in a firm manner, I was to go and have a hot bath while he prepared something to eat, and then I was to go to bed, in his bed. He had laid out towels and a pair of my pyjamas along with a housecoat on the bed. He told me all my other things were either hanging in the closet or in the middle bureau drawer. At the time I was too tired and too sick to protest, but later, when I thought about it, I felt it was very presumptuous of him to unpack my suitcase.
After my bath, when I returned to the kitchen, I was surprised to find a bowl of homemade chicken soup for each of us on the table. He told me how lucky it was he had the soup in his freezer. I protested I wasn’t hungry, but to my surprise, once I started eating, I continued eating with increasing gusto. The hot soup calmed my queasy stomach. I didn’t protest as he led me to his bed, pulled back the covers and tucked me in as I laid down. He lightly caressed my head and kissed me very gently on the forehead. As I closed my eyes, I could clearly see a black and white photograph of a sick little girl which hangs on my grandmother’s wall. I slept.
(Continued next month: Chapter 3, A Slow Recovery)