One young woman in particular looked at me with a gaze that reflected her inquisitiveness and rage, yet was a plea for understanding at the same time. I could see the her question in her eyes,"How did you learn that?"
The odd thing was that her gaze actually snuffed out whatever flickering of whatever desire I had, at least at that moment, to tell about my own story of sexual abuse. That they knew I was speaking and teaching from my heart was enough for me.
Then again, I don't think I had to talk about my own experience for her or other people to know that I had it. And if they don't know, that's even better: It means they trust me and I won't let them down.
Now I'm thinking of a time when I was discussing a student's paper on A Doll's House with her. It was during the last year I lived and worked as Nick, and I had just left a long-term relationship and a place in which I had lived for eleven years. I had been spending a lot of time with my doctor, therapist and social worker; I would soon start to take hormones.
In the middle of our conversation, the student blurted out this observation: "When you were teaching about A Doll's House--especially when you were talking about Nora--you were teaching about yourself, weren't you?"
Now, some would argue that we are always teaching about ourselves, and I wouldn't disagree.
But I also couldn't deny that teaching A Doll's House, especially when I was talking about Nora, was particularly poignant for me at that time in my life.
"How did you know that?," I wondered.
"Sometimes you just looked ready to cry," she said.
Indeed I was. But I wasn't today. I had other language at my disposal. I paid for it, but it is mine. Hopefully, I communicated something with it today.