Thursday, May 31, 2012
“Are you sure that’s a negative two?” my roommate Dana asked, observing my pencil scrawling numbers, x’s and y’s across a line on some graph paper. “Um…” I trail off, my pencil paused. “Of course if I’m asking then…” Dana laughed. “So it’s positive two?” I giggle to keep from crying. We’re at Atomix, a coffee shop near our place. It’s Friday morning and I’ve just finished with a rather challenging yoga class, moving on to a take home quiz before meeting up with Jeff later. “Yes. Do you know why?” “I had to move it over to the other side of the equal sign?” “Yes. You know this stuff, you just get a little careless with your signs. OK. Keep going.” My eyes fix on the page, the numbers, and the graphs. They swirl around me. I feel lost. For the first time probably since Rob died I have the feeling of wishing the Earth would simply stop rotating for a minute and let me breathe, let me catch up. Everything feels like it’s moving so quickly. School started up shortly after Jeff and I got back from San Francisco. My classes, Technical Math (aka, algebra II, aka my personal hell), Circulatory/Swedish massage and Craniosacral Therapy are all over the place in terms of the times of the day/week they occur. Last term all my classes were neatly situated in three consecutive evenings. This time, things aren’t so streamlined. “I’m stuck.” I sigh to Dana. She glances at my work and points out my mistake, explaining what to do next. “Does that make sense?” I nod and make the correction. Dana has offered to help tutor me through this math class. I have no idea what I’d do without her. It’s horrifying to me to have to go through this again. I did fairly well in both Algebra I and II in high school but my teacher was the best math teacher in the history of the world. That’s not to say my current teacher isn’t good, he just moves at the speed of light and the class is three hours long. Every. Monday. Plus, I’m 30, not 17. It’s been a while and I care even less about solving for your stupid “y”. My coffee is now cold as we wrap things up, my homework finally completed. Tears flood my eyes as I put away my books and exhale. “No, no, no!” Dana exclaims upon witnessing this. “You’re ok! Seriously, you’re getting it. I just think you need to spend more time working out the problems again. Make sure you keep getting the right answers. You’re going to be fine.” she assures me. I nod. I believe her. Even if I fail, I will be fine. I just feel so inadequate and incompetent. I have felt this way about anything mathematical since I was six years old. Somehow taking this class now feels like twenty four years of anxiety, anger, frustration, and tears all crashing down around me. It’s a feeling of having to deal with all those emotions finally and not just solve for “x”, or “y”, or whatever… and move on. In the past, I’ve simply wanted the formula. Tell me what I have to do when the directions ask for certain things so I can get this over with as soon as humanly possible pleaseandthankyou. Now, I want to understand the why’s of everything so I can stop my careless mistakes…or simply spot them faster. I’m hoping to do better.