“And I’m going to need some space outside of classes.”
“What does that mean?” I asked, with images of accosting him on the street popping into my head. “I don’t understand.”
He smiled broadly and just stared at me a moment before continuing. I thought that if a total stranger to both of us had been passing us at that moment, they might have thought my boyfriend was breaking up with me or something. It struck me as that strange a thing to say.
“Don’t email me anymore. I don’t want any more explanations or apologies,” he clarified, still smiling.
At that point, I stifled a chuckle, understanding the richness of the irony. The previous moment’s exchange was almost the quintessential example of our difficulties with each other: Sifu’s tendency to hint at what he wants me to do, expecting me to intuit his meaning, and my tendency to ask for explicit clarification, instead of risking misinterpretation of what had already been said.
We had each done what we do, engaged in one of the acts that most baffles the other. Only this time, he didn’t make a second cryptic statement to follow the first or simply leave my question completely unaddressed. He directly told me what he didn’t want me to do, rather than leave me to make a future error unaware. It felt like a gift – an expensive and well-wrapped one at that. And that wasn’t even the best part of the conversation.
The prohibition against cyberspace communication was a result of my having emailed him Friday afternoon to extend a second apology. I wanted him to know that I’d had the cultural error of my ways spelled out to me. But he opened today’s conversation by pulling me aside at the conclusion of two and half hours of training and announcing: “I didn’t actually read your email yesterday; I started to but decided to stop. I want to just start things over between you and me. As of right now, we just begin again from here.”
“I’d love that,” I answered, wondering if some kind of epiphany had occurred since he’d dressed me down – and without him even reading the apology I’d offered with a humble mea culpa.
Did he come to see my point of view? Did he notice the dirt on his own side of the street? Did the reason for the overture matter at all?
It certainly could if I let it. But what good could possibly come from that?