two years ago a great man passed, and at the very least i can offer him a little real estate on my blog.
his name was ardavan davaran – “ardy” to many of us – and he was my friend.
but before that, he was a professor. i met him quite casually. it seems my name gets passed around among teachers/professors, so one day in the cafeteria i met the man through one of my other professors. the smile struck me first. so full of life and passion, and a genuine love for those around him. it’s always refreshing to meet people like that; it gives you hope that there is something inherently good in all of us.
i took his shakespeare class in the spring of 2008. i’d had a shakespeare class in high school, and i’d always loved the work of the bard, so this class was going to be no exception. he was one of the best professors i’ve had because he loved what he taught, and he wanted to draw out the best in all of us. it was the little things that let you know that he was rooting for you. the smiles. the silly, offhand comments. he loved my writing, he loved my reading. i read in his eyes that he believed in me, that he thought i could do great things and go places. it saddens me to think that he never got to see me do those things, but perhaps he’s with us somewhere watching me, and someday he’ll see me sing my heart out and know that i did something important and reached out to the world with my voice, and possibly someday, with my songs if i ever write any. but the important thing is, he knew i’d succeed, that i was succeeding every day, and that i had something beautiful inside of me.
my friends jaclyn, panda, nora, and i had a place in our dorm that we called “the wall.” something made it on the wall if it was memorable or funny, or just downright strange. davaran made the wall twice, and both times in shakespeare class. once i accused him, in fun, of flirting with me and he shot right back with, “i’m not flirting. flirting is wishy-washy. i’m openly expressing my love for you.” i mean, what do you say for that? but that’s how he was – he loved people. he loved everyone, and he didn’t hesitate to let them know. and he gave of himself to them. one day i walked with him to his office, and he had me try on the sunglasses he was wearing, and once he decided that they looked fabulous on me, he told me to keep them, that he had a few pairs of the same glasses. i wore those sunglasses all the time after he passed, until i lost them. a very sad day.
the other time he made the wall, we were discussing the author of a book of essays on shakespeare. this particular woman was a trans-woman, and ardy went off on a tangent about how some people would be good as the opposite gender and others wouldn’t. he asserted he’d make a pretty good woman. maybe he would.
i knew him as a friend when we went to ashland together with some other professors and students, as well as alumni and other people related to the university. we danced. we laughed. i had my first vodka with him (he was a skyy man). we all lived that week.
i only had him for that one class. fall rolled around and i saw him on campus here and there. the following spring semester, we were shocked to learn that he was in the hospital and he had been secretly battling cancer, though you would have never known it the way he carried on. a couple of days later he was gone. it only took one of my friends looking at me for me to know he’d gone, and we cried together. and all i could do was wander aimlessly around campus crying as i ran into more people who discovered the news on my face.
some good came of it. i got closer to people who i had known, but not really known. people came together in their grief. but the beacon on our campus had gone. i think it was many weeks before i had fully recovered.
this friday will be two years since his death. today some of us got together in his former office, which has been taken over by a friend and fellow english professor. the room definitely speaks to ardy’s life and spirit. we put back some skyy and some tasty snacks and just talked. talked about his life. talked about what he did for us. i hadn’t been in his office since before he died, so it was a bit of a shock to be in such a different place, but he definitely lives on there, loving all of us.