Friday, January 20, 2017

Naming Names

I have a new adult student. This is a specific and dramatic answer to prayer. On Thursday, Ivan and I went through a lesson on superstitions, and among the questions was whether the people doing the lesson were religious, and my student mentioned that his sister was Catholic and his mother was Buddhist, and that he was not at all religious--he was cool with everything. And at the end of the lesson he suggested that we go out for dinner together. The result of what had begun to feel like nightly conversation-dates was the suggestion that we have a real one, since it is pretty clear there was a measurable level of mutual attraction.

Now dinner out would've been an ethical issue were we on the same page beliefwise, as dating one's student is a big academic no-no, but given the profound gulf between our attitudes toward and relationships with the Almighty the question immediately became superacademic, and the sudden definitive determination that this guy wasn't a believer, made my way clear, if not easy (in the least!--how often do I meet attractive, single, smart, multilingual former soccer players who admit to being "around 40" and who are well-traveled, outgoing and share my socio-economic background?).

The new student – of whom I was told just five minutes before the Friday lesson began – is a neat, sophisticated woman of my age who has two young children that attend a international school. The lady told me that she had taught herself English using the BBC and CNN! Unlike Ivan, her grammar and pronunciation are superb, but she lacks confidence in speaking with natives. I was glad that I got a few minutes to get to know her before Ivan showed up. I felt so much more comfortable with her in the class, and she seems to be of his comprehension level, which is a godsend. And she was not intimidated by him. I think he may have been a bit intimidated by her, really, because she was so mature and self-possessed.

I remind myself that it is not romantic relationships that are the most important in the world, nor familial relationships, nor friend relationships, but the one between you and your Creator. If that one isn't settled and primary, nothing else fits into place. Of course it is a blow to meet a guy who is fascinating and seems to share many of the same interests, and also seems to find me equally interesting, but I remind myself that without that essential relationship with God, all of that is meaningless.It is bad enough to be temperamentally, emotionally, intellectually and otherwise incompatible with one's spouse, but to be spiritually unequal is even more lethal to a marital relationship.

And I'm not comforting myself with that blather "that there's somebody out there for me." Bull hockey. There might be, there might not be. It's not an issue of comparison, of waiting for that perfect someone, or even of anticipating a better someone. The fact is, this particular someone is not the right someone. This scenario is more than a little like the employment situation I faced when I returned home from D.C. three years ago--within weeks of my arrival, I was a finalist for what seemed on paper to be the perfect job, but it turned out not to be the one for which I was destined. Does this mean that I'll meet Mr. Right two years hence? We shall see!

My classes have achieved a modicum of rhythm, and I am starting to learn the kids' names. Slowly, slowly, I am learning the names--just the adopted English ones, not their real Korean names. Given that a year with the same adult colleagues of different ages left me sure of the monikers of less than twenty, the effort to absorb the personal sobriquets of fifty children between the ages of eight and twelve is a challenge. But I have to record grades for each before this coming Wednesday, and so I have been making a concerted effort, and using what distinguishing characteristics--from earlobes to eyewear, pencil cases to hairstyles and body types--that I can observe to try to put the words on the rosters with faces. There are some memorable kids, of course--mostly among the second and third graders. The two little girls who were giggling underneath my desk, "hiding" from their speaking tests the other day; the round jolly fellow who enthusiastically shouts the vocabulary words and giggles infectiously at my explanatory contortions; the sweet bespectacled scholar who stays swaddled in his huge insulated red coat, hunched over his desk, carefully carving each letter into the paper. But the older kids tend to clump together, and when you are dealing with five adolescent boys in various stages of apathy and insurrection, names are the least of your concerns.

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