Thursday, November 10, 2011
Several years ago I had a very attractive young woman student in Gallup, New Mexico in one of my classes through the UNM branch there. I didn't particularly like this student. She seemed to need more love and attention then I really wanted to give her, especially considering how beautiful she was. However, I successfully kept how I felt from her, and she continued taking classes with me. Towards the end of her time in that area, she had a show at the Public Library in Gallup and ended up selling quite a few of her paintings. When I went to see the show, and the librarian found out I was an artist, she informed me that not just anyone could have a show there, implying that my chances were slim. I was, of course, very jealous.
My student applied and got into graduate school on the East Coast, and I wrote a nice letter of recommendation for her in spite of my jealousy. On a trip to New York City, about a year later, I ran into this student quite by accident at the Museum of the American Indian in front of an exhibit of Zuni Kachinas. She was ecstatic to see me, and I pretended the same, but inwardly felt disgruntled. Why her of all people?
It wasn't too long after this, when I was back in Gallup teaching, that one of my colleagues told me that my student had been killed in an automobile accident in New Jersey. I was devastated. I cried for days. I realized that her success with the Gallup library show had been important in a way that I couldn't have foreseen, that her short life had a much different trajectory then one that lasts for another 60 years, as hers should have. And mostly I just felt terrible about my petty jealousy and dislike.