After All

I teach composition at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa.
I choose to spend as little time in my office as possible.
If office hours weren’t required, I wouldn’t be in my office at all.
Over the past year, only one student has ever come to office hours.

I choose to grade papers over in Sinclair Library,
go sit outside to smoke,
grade papers,
go buy a cup of coffee and smoke,
grade papers,
sit outside smoking, drinking coffee,
and wondering what the hell to do with the rest of my life.

I sip some coffee, light up another cigarette,
blow out a slow stream of smoke,
and through the haze I see him,
my high school English teacher.
My high school’s just across University Avenue from Sinclair,
a part of the University under the College of Education.

“Is that Lanning Lee?” he asks.
“It is I,” I answer properly, as an English major will.
“Did you finish your Master’s at Wisconsin?”
“I did.  I’m teaching English composition here.”
“So you’re in the system?” he says.
“I am.”
“I’ll keep that in mind if we ever need an English teacher at the Lab School.”

They did, almost immediately, so I came back to teach at my alma mater,
part of figuring out what the hell to do with the rest of my life.

Small world stories.
Sometimes I think that the majority of my life
is a stitching together of those coincidental moments that,
when they happen,
make absolutely clear,
the reason of why,
behind the logical, orderly progression of life.

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