12/04/17 - 2

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12/04/17 - 2

Today/yesterday was Monday, the day Alejandro was taking me to tour Tulane.

We took the St. Charles streetcar, which was very pleasant. When we got off we had to walk by Loyola to get to Tulane. It seemed awkward since that's Emily's school, and the proximity of the two schools is the reason they met. But in spite of that, the facade was very pretty. It was so old-world, with the prominent Catholic church at the front and the square corners of the courtyard, I wished for a moment that I'd shopped around more before just picking the same school my mom went to.

Alejandro showed me around the main buildings at Tulane. As we walked, he told me about the school's history, about his experience defining his topic. and some anecdotes about his attendance. It was nice to be able to see this part of his life in person, and hear the memories it brought up.

When we visited his department, his thesis director, Professor Johnson, happened to be walking through. He greeted Alejandro, who introduced me as his research assistant. Of course I am - or was - and it makes sense to be introduced to this person that way.  I can also understand why Alejandro might not to mention to his thesis director that he's in a relationship with his student, particularly since our relationship hasn't been defined. I think it was suspicious enough that I was here in New Orleans, but Professor Johnston didn't say anything. I wondered if Alejandro had mentioned anything about me at their meeting.

But when we left I couldn't get that out of my mind. His research assistant. Except not. Not his student. His... what, friend? Friend with no benefits, only some future hope things will magically work out?

I tried to push these thoughts out of my mind because Alejandro looked really happy again, and I didn't want to ruin that.

He took me to lunch at Tartine, a French-style bakery/café more or less by the school and near the Audobon Zoo. As we walked there he continued to talk about Tulane, and I continued to listen.

When we sat down, I rested my hand on the table. Alejandro set his hand on top of mine, but only for a split second. When he withdrew it, I wished he'd left it there. I wished he'd done a hundred things more, and I hated myself for it.

He looked into my eyes and said, softly, "Novela." It sounded so different now, now that I was here with him on my own terms. I had no sarcasm this time. At least not for him, only for myself.

Oblivious to my self-recrimination, he continued. "I'm sorry I introduced you as my research assistant."

I glanced up at him. Had he noticed my disappointment at the term? I had thought I was concealing my emotions pretty well.

"Well, what else would you call me? I'm not really anything else."

"I want you to be. You know that. I know my divorce isn't final yet, but it's just a matter of time. I will wait for you as long as you need, but I wish it wouldn't be long. I know my feelings about you won't change, and even if they did, it wouldn't matter. You are the type of person - the person - I want to be with forever. The one who always tells me the truth, whether I'll like it or not. Who doesn't only pretend she's interested in the same things as I am. Who is always seeking to learn, just like I do, and is genuinely curious about the world around her. For you, I'm willing to make any sacrifice."

I nodded. I wasn't sure what he wanted me to say.

"Novela, I-- I know I asked you to think about it. I said I would give you time and I wasn't going to pressure you. I'll stop now. I just-- since you're here, you came with me, I thought that maybe you had already decided."

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