Sunday, November 7, 2010
A Willing Learner
This is actually my second solo trip, and just like the first one, the visit started out peacefully enough. I find my seat, I settled in with my backpack and all my knitting supplies. Today, I arrived with 2 hats done and set them out in front of me by my feet. I had been knitting for about 15-20 min. when a tall man came up and said, "Did you make those?" I said, "Yes, do you want one?" Well, what he said was he wanted to learn how to make one! I had an extra #8 circular needle and some extra yarn, so I proceeded to begin the lesson - starting with casting on 24 stitches. He was amazing - better than I was when I first started! He picked up quickly how to cast on (only he pulled way too tight!), and we moved right into the basic knit stitch. I teased him about being too tense - chiding him to loosen up, and he joked that it must be a male control issue!
He was excited to be learning - we had a good time, he was smart and funny, and it was good. He told me his name was James. But then, about 2 rows in and about an hour later, the light conversation darkened. I don't know what triggered it, but the reason why this man is here became painfully evident. His interesting insights became heavy-duty conspiracy theories. He saw himself as highly enlightened, able to "see" things that no one else could understand. There was a thread of truth to his claims, but his beliefs were beyond the functional norm. Our lesson stopped, he lost focus. He told me about his mom and sister in NYC - how deluded they were, how they had been poisoned. He couldn't find the light-hearted self that he had been an hour earlier, and I certainly could not bring him back either. We talked for another 45 minutes, and I began to wonder how I could move on. I was uneasy.
In the end, I had to get up - saying I had to use the restroom. I picked up the needles, knitting and the small ball of yarn he had long since put down. I told him to practice, and that I would see how he was doing next Friday.
I felt drained, so after being on campus for about 2 hr 45 min., exhausted by MY lesson of the day, I walked to my car and I left. I felt like a coward.