In the fall of my junior year, my classroom’s carpet and I began a more-than-casual relationship. What previously went unnoticed, what previously only came to meet the stomp of my slush-coated boots or trudge of my sneakers started to introduce itself to the entire rest of me.
As with many relationships, the one doing the introducing bears a major note of interest. She kept a willowy figure and a riotous classroom. She never quite simply entered a room–she always seemed to breeze in with a rush of energy or a tinkle of wind-chiming laughter.
When Patsy died this summer, I felt that wind-chimed breeze knocked right out of me. She was a phenomenal human. By day, she was called a professor–Professor Yaeger to be exact. But no one ever called her that. To us, she was Patsy, whimsical, brilliant Patsy. And though we never called her by it, she was a professor in the most outstanding sense of the word. She was our teacher, our guide. She led us fearlessly through the thorniest of literary theory, the densest of Marxist principles, but most importantly, she was always open to being led to another journey altogether. She welcomed our off-the-wall insights with open arms. She coaxed us to think beyond any walls our previous educationing had concocted.
She introduced us, me and this carpet. Patsy livened up our classes with movement. As we sleepy students untangled ourselves from our stiff chairs, she would tell us to sit on that carpet. To feel it. To grab it in our fingers. She would tell us to dance together! To make noise together! To breathe and be weird and be altogether renewed as we kicked down any precedented ways of thinking with fervor.
Patsy was very special. I’ll miss her very much. I remember looking her up before our very first class, on her very own slice of the internet that she formerly occupied here. On the screen, she seemed so intimidating to me. PhD from Yale, a whole laundry list of publications. But in that classroom in West Hall, she was anything but. She wanted nothing but for us to conquer that word, that concept: intimidation. She helped us turn it on its head in literature and in our lives, and in the social constructs of weirdness.
Patsy was also one of the few that didn’t consider me to be completely bat-shit crazy when I confided in her during office hours that I was working on buying this house with a retired NFL player and creating a new place for student entrepreneurs. For that, I am eternally grateful. God, how I wish I could have given her a grand tour, too.
And, I’ll leave you with this–a line from one of her first emails to our class two Septembers ago:
Originally published ~a year ago at notesbynance.tumblr.com.