A man pulls a glossy booklet from its wrapper two seats down my row. My scowl over his crinkly inconsideration goes unnoticed. He is looking at one of the jumbotrons with its subtitles appearing in delayed and faulty blocks of text. But I didn’t travel 893 miles and spend a thousand dollars to watch our teacher on yet another screen. I focus my eyes back on the distant podium, my head beginning to ache from the squinting.
On my lap is my worn booklet, highlighted and underlined. I know, though, that anything worth the price of admission is too valuable to simply print in the supplementary copy. So I sit. And listen carefully.
I am still listening for the big reveal when the moderator steps onto the stage and thanks us all for coming, announces the teacher will be signing books for anyone who forms a line. I sit stunned until the man with the plastic wrapper asks if he can go ahead of me. Ahead?
I elbow my way to the teacher and blurt my question. His face gently contorts, “You have been through a difficult season and are feeling hurt and lost. I am so sorry for what you have endured.”
I wait. I wait for the second half of what he is going to say, for the payoff, for the secrets that every workbook, trailer, and sales associate promised. “So,” I falter, “what should I do?”
His eyebrows raise. “That’s a good question,” he says. A long pause. “Some things remain a mystery.”
Before I know what I’m doing, my hands grab his shirt. I hear myself scream but I know now that he is just like me and no answers are going to come.
One of the security guards gets me in a bear hug. I resist but he looks right into my eyes and says more gently than I thought possible, “You have to let go.” I collapse onto the floor, knowing he is right, and knowing, for the first time in years, that I am going to be okay.