Friday, February 15, 2013

Dinner at our Professor’s house

At the end of the semester, Anthony’s professor invited us to his house for dinner. I asked Anthony for a ride. He told me that he would pick up another friend first, then me and maybe Yuli, another Chinese student. I heard Yuli’s story in China before I met her. Her Chinese professor and colleague came to my institute the year before I came to the U.S. Yuli was a Masters student of this professor. From the conversation, I noticed that something really bad happened and that she just couldn’t get over it. I didn’t know what had happened until she came to our school in the U.S.
     Her fiancé was one of the earliest students who went abroad to study in 1980. He was in Canada while she was still in China. She was always very proud of him. One day, she got a letter that said he would be back home in one week. She was so excited and prepared everything for their wedding. But a week later came with news of his death. He committed suicide because he could not get along with his major professor and couldn’t deal with the stress from his studies and research. She was so devastated. She had a nervous breakdown and ended up in a hospital for over a year.
     The good thing was that she recovered and continued what her boyfriend didn’t accomplish. She came to the US for her Ph.D. She joined our field trips a few times and she tried to help me core the ash trees, but only broke the tool. My professor said he never had anyone break the tool and she was the first. He took us out for pizza to reward her for her help. Then, he took us to the ice cream shop, we told him we each only needed a small cone; he did give her a small cone, but gave me the biggest one he could find in the shop.
     I was surprised that evening when Anthony came to pick me up alone. He explained that his friend had changed her mind, and Yuli had gotten a ride from someone else. When we got our dinner plates and lined up for dinner, there were goldfish crackers and snacks on the dinner table. So we put the tiny crackers on the big dinner plates hoping that real dinner would be coming soon, but that never happened. My professor left first; he took all his beer on the way out. Very soon we left as well. His wife must have been on strike for the day. Later, we did have more parties at the professor’s house with a lot of food.

     Anthony had this big green Plymouth Voltaire from his grandmother; the car was 10 years old with only 10,000 miles. It was cold and icy that night. On the way home, he was embarrassed since his car did not cooperate well. It was difficult to start at first. Then, the car kept dying on the road. He said, “come on, I know it’s cold. Keep going.” I thought it was funny. I heard about the trouble of owning a car. Now, I finally saw one in person.