Dating : The Resurrection of Liza Ross or How I Stopped Wishing for Second Chances

h2>Dating : The Resurrection of Liza Ross or How I Stopped Wishing for Second Chances

Liza was a junior chemistry lecturer while I was a student, about two years older than me and most of my class mates. She was very intelligent and pretty, but even later on when we became friends, I could not shake the feeling that I was the student and she the teacher in our relationship. This, by itself, would of course not have prevented our platonic friendship from changing into something closer, but there was another obstacle — Liza’s treatment of people was a problem. In fact I should say that she was downright unpleasant and abrasive. On the frequent occasions when she would make fun of a student’s incorrect answers, you could tell from her cruel smile that she frankly enjoyed hurting people.

I don’t think she had any close friends or even acquaintances, but I was trapped by Liza’s absolutely divine talent as musician. Maybe it was the unusual spectacle to see such an unpleasant person singing and playing the piano with so much tenderness that kept me circling — and getting hurt — by this brightly burning candle.

When visiting Liza at home, she liked to offer coffee mixed with a liqueur called which, despite its Spanish name, is produced in Italy. I mention this since I believe to this day that the overwhelmingly sweet caffeine-alcohol concoction acted as a kind of truth serum, which instead of mellowing Liza’s caustic manners, made her irritable and even more insulting and the evening would soon end in another argument.

At the end of that year I graduated, moved to another city and we lost contact after one or two brief telephone conversations.

About three years ago, I went to a conference and ran into one of my class mates who was then living in a different part of the country. I asked him if he had contact with Liza.

“I heard that she died.”

What surprised me was how this news shocked me. We were at the most close friends but never anything more. It just sounded too unlikely and had to get more information.

“How did she die?”

“You probably know that she had diabetes, did you? Never took care of herself.”

She was simply in denial about her illness and lived her life pretending it did not exist. I felt guilty about the evenings we ordered food that no diabetic should eat, drinking that awfully sweet coffee and liqueur mixture that doubtless contributed to the diabetic coma she apparently slipped into and appears to have died of.

I went into a state of mourning for her lost talent, her lonely life. Her hurtful remarks and weird comments suddenly did not strike me as so bad anymore and I wished I was more supportive, more accommodating and less focusing on myself and my frail ego. I wished I was closer to her. I wished I kept our friendship alive. I wished I had a second chance.

And a second chance I got.

Liza was alive. Not alive and well, but she was not dead. Vance heard the untrue story which was already halfway around the world while Truth was still trying to put its pants on.[1]

It was a few days before Christmas and I answered the call from an unknown number.

“Hi Stephan, it is me… Liza.”

At first the voice only sounded familiar, but it took only a few seconds for me to get the goosebumps, the sick feeling in the stomach and the need to sit down.

“Liza! How? What?”

“Well, I haven’t heard from you in ages and thought I’ll give you a…”

I just had to blurt it out. Or try to anyway:

“I spoke to Vance Goodman in July and he told me that you…”


“Well, yes!”

Liza told me how she became ill and lay two days alone in her apartment in a deepening diabetic coma before neighbors found her. By that time she was barely alive and in kidney failure which would require dialysis for the rest of her life. She was so weak when she finally left the hospital a month later, that she could not resign from her job in person, it had to be done from her parents’ home where she went to live permanently. So none of her colleagues or students heard anything about her again and since she had no close friends, the story that she passed away was simply accepted as true.

One time — also when I was a student — a small group of us had some instruction by one of our professors. A distinguished, great man and a joy to listen to. Standing in front of us, from time to time stretching while pointing to a drawing on the blackboard, it was clear that is pants’ flies were open. Not just unzippered— his tugged-in shirt and even underwear were showing through the opening which was on eye-level with the seated group in front of him. We just sat there trying not to see it, each wondering how to tell this man without embarrassing him or ourselves — and no-one did. We listened in rapture, unable to remember a word he said. The longest hour of my life.

Well, even while recovering from the shock of finding out Liza was alive, it was as if her way of talking, remarks she made and even the tone of her voice triggered memories of unpleasant past incidents. It was like a dark hole of disillusionment sitting there and despite my best efforts I could not ignore it. Not even listen to what she was saying most of the time. And I could not gather the courage to tell her the truth.

Even when we spoke again a month later I could not avoid this growing irritation and the realization that any relationship with her would be unsatisfying, possibly even harmful. Even my memories of mourning her ‘death’ became overshadowed by the growing dissatisfaction of talking to her, and when she called again that next February I let it go to voice-mail and never returned it.

Six month later I read her obituary in one of our professional journals.

Read also  how to keep it for life?

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