I've just learned of the death of Edward Albee.
When I was at Atholton High School in Karl Schindler's class, I read the American Dream and Zoo story. I was blown away. I had never read anything like that and couldn't make sense of the extraordinary impact that his writing was having on me. Just as that was happening, my friend Chris mentioned to me that he had a relative who owned a vintage store on Charles Street in Baltimore and Edward had just come down to purchase a lime green refrigerator from the 1960s. I had his relative track down the sales slip so that I could obtain Mr. Albee's contact information but the phone number was missing.
I went to our high school assistant librarian and requested a phone book from Manhattan. With some effort obtained it and I looked up all the Albees.
I tried the first number listed from a phone in a cubby at the Atholton High school library. When a man answered I said "Excuse me, I'm a high school student in Columbia Maryland...can you tell me how I might be able to speak with Mr. Edward Albee?" The man responded: "start talking."
So I did.
That day and several others. He consistently refused to answer my questions about his work but simply posed more questions, probed my questions, asked what I thought, interspersed with "hmms" and "ahhs". I didn't know anything about the Socratic method. I spent many hours on the phone with him.
I presented the whole experience to my English class.
It changed my view of literature, connected me to ideas I had never imagined, helped me to see how art exceeds the artist and made my choice of St. John's College inevitable.
Thank you Mr. Albee. May you rest in peace.