Thursday, October 07, 2010

On Leaving Early

I walked out of a class yesterday. That's something I've never done before. The instructor offered a sample class and I sampled and found the class dull and boring. I expect that leaving could be construed as boorish and impolite. It isn't as if I made a lot of noise. I tried to be discrete when I closed my notebook, put away my pen without clicking it shut, screwed the cap to my water bottle, and folded up three handouts. I tucked my jacket under my arm, held onto my umbrella, and slowly pushed the chair back. The gray carpet muted the sound and I didn't trip or disturb my two neighbors.

Since I sat directly across from the instructor my leave taking was obvious. She now looked across at a gap-toothed space. Did I nod in her direction as if to insinuate that I had a pressing engagement or did I avert my gaze? I do know that I closed the door quietly. I wasn't the first to depart, but the first person announced when she arrived that she needed to leave early. It's always good to have an escape plan.

I must be suffering from some residual guilt. What I needed was an excuse.

Perhaps we're too careful about staying to the end. Years ago if I started a book, I kept going page after page even when the book was incredibly dull. After all some reviewer recommended the opus. It must be me. Now I think nothing of admitting that I am at odds with the reviewer. Bandwagons are tedious and I may be one of the few people who read the first Larsson book and intend to read the next, but not right away. After all I just discovered Per Petterson and can't wait to read yet another of his books.

Leaving is an art. Some partings happen accidentally, others are forced. The tragic ones are fostered on people without their assent. I see pictures of refugees fleeing, photos of mudslides devouring homes, floods forcing themselves into houses, fires charring homes and possessions, and photos of people standing on the street looking at the remains of their home.

I recall seeing a play where one character says to another —I left a long time ago, but you never noticed.