The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

SMU professor Susanne Scholz in the West Bank in 2018.
SMU professor to return to campus after being trapped in Gaza for 12 years
Sara Hummadi, Video Editor • May 18, 2024


Chapter Ten: Out of Safe Harbor

Peter was tired. The Austin trip had really taken it out of him. However, after his last class of the day, when he saw Liz walking about 20 yards in front of him, he was suddenly revitalized and exited. He approached her with eager readiness.

“Hey, Liz,” said Peter. “How’s it going?”

“Oh, hey, Peter,” she replied. “Pretty well. Just a little tired is all.”

“Yeah, me too,” said Peter. “It’s a good thing we’re done for the day though.”

“Unfortunately that’s not the case for me,” said Liz. “I’ve got this fundraiser thing for Darfur.”

“Are you in charge of it?” asked Peter.

“No,” responded Liz.

“Then skip it,” encouraged Peter. “Come back to my room and unwind . . . maybe watch some ‘Seinfeld.'”

“Are you serious, Peter?” accused Liz. “People in Darfur need our help and all you want to sit around and watch “Seinfeld.” That’s ridiculous.”

“Come on, Liz,” argued Peter. “The money y’all have been raising isn’t even slated to go directly to Darfur anyway. It’s going to the United Nations refugee fund. And if there’s anyone I don’t trust with my money it’s the U.N. Either them or leaders of warring African nations, I can’t make up my mind.”

“You’re unbelievable!” exclaimed Liz. “I don’t even want to speak with you right now. Give me a call when you learn to care about problems other than your own.”

Liz stormed off in a fit of rage. Peter had insulted the one thing she was truly passionate about at the moment, and as far as she was concerned, he would have to find at least passing interest in helping to quell the genocide in Darfur before she could forgive him.

Peter was completely stunned. He knew he had pissed Liz off in Austin, but that was nothing in comparison to this. He wished he could take it back now, but he could not. The only thing he could do was make it up to her. He just did not know how.

Two days later, Peter had made no progress. In fact, it was getting worse. He felt ashamed. He was avoiding Liz instead of apologizing for his actions. And now his plan was to just wait it out, that is, give Liz time to cool off before he approached her again.

Later that day, however, Walter burst in Peter’s room with, at least how Walter saw it, some exciting news.

“I’ve got good news,” exclaimed Walter. “I’ve recruited Liz to join us at Al-Amir for Sultans and Genies.”

Peter looked at Walter for a moment, thinking about where he stood with Liz at the moment. “Then I’m not going,” he finally said.

“What?” said Walter, taken aback.

“It’s just we had a fight last night,” began Peter, “and that certainly did not help after the anchor fiasco in Austin.”

“Fiasco?” said Walter. “You are making this a much bigger deal than it is.”

“It’s just I think it might be better for me to wait out the tempest in safe harbor,” said Peter.

“So you’ve hit a rough patch with Liz, who cares? Everyone has fights. Your ability to mutually resolve those fights, however, is what matters,” stated Walter. “Besides, ‘a ship in the harbor may be safe, but that is not what ships are built for.'”

Peter let Walter’s words sink in for a beat. “Wow, Walter, that’s really profound.”

“Don’t give me too much credit,” said Walter. “I read it off a plaque in my old high school.”

“So you’re saying I should go for it,” said Peter. “Caution to the wind, that sort of thing.”

“Exactly,” smiled Walter.

Although Walter had made good on his claim that he had gotten Liz to join him and Peter at Al-Amir, the event was not going as planned. Peter and Liz had barely spoken to each other. It seemed Liz was intent to remain firm in her position, and Peter had lost some of the zeal he seemed to display earlier in his room. This prevented further arguing but did little to quell the tension between them.

The party, however, was fantastic. Al-Amir was, as usual, a good place to be, and the camels, belly dancers and fire breathers were incredible fun. This was especially good for Walter because he was rather bored with Peter and Liz’s charade.

So when Liz approached Walter to ask him if he was ready to go, he politely declined but told her Peter was. And after 30 minutes of searching for someone else to take her back, Liz conceded and asked Peter if he would. They left together, just as Walter had planned.

Peter and Liz spent the bus ride back to campus in silence. A few times Peter received an impulse to speak, but the words never made it past his mouth. So they sat in uncomfortable silence.

As Peter escorted Liz back to the Panhellenic house, he decided he needed to throw caution to the wind. He could not wait for Liz to get over his hurtful actions; he needed to take initiative.

“Liz, I’m sorry for those things I said about Darfur,” started Peter. “I’m not sure where that came from exactly. I shouldn’t insult people who are trying their best to help. I mean, look at me; I’m not doing anything. What gives me the right?

“I’m sorry about Austin too. I should have helped y’all with the anchor instead of criticizing y’all.”

Liz did not respond immediately. She did not expect Peter to apologize to her. In her experience, apologies usually occurred immediately after the incident from which they stem or not at all. This was an entirely different experience, which she was not entirely prepared for.

“Thank you,” she said. “I really appreciate it.”

“No problem,” responded Peter. “I just want you to know I never wanted to hurt you. In fact, pain is the last thing I would ever wish upon you.”

When they finally reached the Panhellenic house, Peter took the moment to ask Liz something he had been dying to ever since they got back from Austin: “Do you want to do something tomorrow night? Just the two of us?”

“Actually, I can’t,” said Liz.

“Oh . . . OK,” responded Peter.

“It’s just . . . I’d love to, but I have this thing for Darfur,” said Liz.

“Oh,” said Peter. He stood there for a second mulling over the situation before proceeding. “What can I do to help?”

Liz smiled brightly. It was exactly what she had wanted from him all along.

She promised to give him a call tomorrow to give him the details, and they hugged firmly. Then she added: “I’m not sure exactly what time we’ll be done tomorrow, but maybe afterward we can rent a movie and watch it in your room.”

Peter agreed, and as he turned to walk back to his room, he was glad he had left his safe harbor to win back Liz – although it should not have been as much of a surprise to him as it was, since that’s what he was built for.

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