Friday, November 17, 2006

got it made

This entry is partly by special request. Hannah’s opinion is that I don’t write enough about her. She has a fair point, since any kind of accurate description of my life here must include the fact that I talk with her and write to her every day. Let me begin by quoting a song of the blues artists Paul Rishell and Annie Raines:
When that girl starts tellin’ you
The things that she wants you to do,
Buddy, you've got it made.
In that spirit, I fulfill Hannah’s suggestion.

Actually, I wanted to write this anyway to share with you two pictures I really like.

The first is from the gorge at Treman Park outside of Ithaca. It was taken (by Hannah’s mom) the week Hannah was moving back into Cornell at the end of the summer. We were at the time (at the very moment of the picture, I think) discussing how we didn’t think we were going to start dating. So much for that conclusion. I remember distinctly Hannah’s reaction to the falls at the park: coming from a suburban background, she didn’t believe one could actually live so close to such natural beauty.

The second photo was taken at Pangea, one of the nicer restaurants in Ithaca, while I was back visiting Hannah this fall. It is now one of about four pictures taken of the two of us since we’ve been a couple. It’s also currently the background for my computer screen.

(In an attempt to echo the title of a previous entry and to tie this title with the above photos, I considered naming this entry “she and he, hanging out at Tre–man…” or “she and he, eating at Pange–a…” Because, y’know, it’s cute and it uses the “e” sound in each of those words. But it turns out that’s not just cute, it’s far too cutesy for my tastes, and besides I could only have used one. In fact, forget I came up with those names.)

One of the wonderful things about our relationship is that we have lots of overlapping interests, but different specializations. I majored in mathematics and music; she’s studying mathematics and English. She adores poetry, which I like but haven’t taken much time to read on my own, and I like 20th century music, some of which she’s begun appreciating. (It’s essentially entirely due to her that I have any interest in learning more about opera, however. That’s one genre that fell outside of my tastes for a long time. But last spring, after we had discussed Der Ring des Nibelungen for several weeks, she basically handed me the disks and said, “Here. Listen to these at home.” I enjoyed them a great deal, much to my surprise. Let this be a lesson that brief selections of four hours works can’t in general give you a notion of what experiencing the whole thing is like.) We’ve filled up substantial portions of our Gmail accounts with poems and mp3s. (Thank goodness for modern communication.) And, of course, we talk about math. I’m a geometer; she’s leaning towards becoming a topologist, which makes for overlapping but not quite identical interests there, too. It’s marvelous to share things you love with people you love.

Hannah was a student in a class for which I was the teaching assistant last fall. So she developed the habit early on of challenging me to explain mathematical ideas well and to her satisfaction. She’s not easily satisfied: she has very high demands on her level of understanding before she’ll admit that she’s mastered a topic. I, naturally, being a teacher (I’ll always be a teacher, even if it doesn’t stay my profession), am happy to explain, to search for new explanations, to examine an idea from several perspectives until we fall on one that she approves of. In the process, of course, she pushes me like no one else to seriously engage with every single detail, and in the end my understanding has grown nearly as much as hers has. I know she’ll be a stupendous researcher.

Hannah is a dancer. She’s been dancing her whole life, mostly folk dances and almost always with her mom. I like to dance. I aspire to learn all that she’s learned. I was never good at sports growing up, but this sort of coordination I have. This sort of movement makes sense to me. And it’s another way to participate in art. Have I mentioned I’m a liberal arts student at heart?

I’ve said before that’s it’s hard to be so far from her for so long. Of course it is. Who would think it should be otherwise? That, indeed, was one of the frustrations I mentioned a couple of weeks ago. Though it hasn’t gotten easier to be apart, recent days have granted us an easier time going about our lives and studies. We look forward to our reunion with great hope and joy. I would never recommend this kind of separation, nor deciding you’re going to start dating someone five days before one of you is about to leave for a long, long time. But I wish this kind of love for everyone. I am completely and totally (and apparently pleonastically, as well) in love with this woman. That’s why we talk for at least an hour per day, and send messages back and forth as often as we can. The above description I’ve given doesn’t begin to explain why I love her, or how wonderful it truly is to have her in my life. These are just the things I imagine you would like to know about her, and special treats we get to enjoy from being together.

And that, I think, is the sappiest essay you’ll get for a while. Unless, of course, Hannah insists I write another one. In any case, I am exceedingly happy.

1 comment:

Tim said...

That was, indeed, intensely sappy.
But don't worry about Hannah thinking she's a topologist now. I used to think I was a topologist, or a combinatorial algebraist, or a combinatorial topologist. And look at me now! And she's only a sophomore! There's still time! See you later!