Thursday, January 27, 2011

Letter to M: College

We were still in touch between 1988 and 1992, but I don’t think we talked much, or at least not enough for me to remember much about what you were doing. All I remember hearing from you is the word “Wharton.” I am writing under the assumption that you remember one word or fewer about me during those years. So, college.

I have my own students now, most of whom are living at home and paying their own way through college. Looking at their lives, it is easy to see that we were privileged. We got to go away to college with our parents’ money in our pockets, and we - or at least I – got to spend four years partying and earning credit in subjects such as “witchcraft and folklore” and “performance art” and “beginning ballet.”

Academic: St. Lawrence allowed me to fill a transcript with excellent grades in the above subjects while forgiving (somehow) the fact that I earned an F micro-economics and got a C in research methods. Somewhere between the flag in economics (go ahead and have a nice long giggle – I am pretty sure you majored in economics) and the suffering inflicted by statistics and the misery connected with any subject requiring me to be logical or think in logical way – much less apply logic to my behavior – I found my true home in the English department, where I earned excellent grades and was a darling in the department for writing moody, dark fiction that suggested I had something to hide, which I most assuredly did not. I also did really well in any class that had anything to do with the oppression of anyone – especially women, black people, gay people, exotic animal lovers – fill in all the blanks – I was great in sociology and graduated just one class short of a minor in that department. I didn’t bother to get the minor because my schedule was cluttered up with writing classes and I didn’t want to miss a second semester of ballet.

Social: I met some great people, and I pledged a sorority, which is a subject so painfully boring that I will spare you. Summary: girls, giggling, punch that tastes like pineapple and looks like Windex, boys, flirtation, extreme silliness. Sigh. Oh and one semester I spent fall break at Harvard with JB. All I remember about it was that we went to a party, drank too much, made out, and fell asleep. But it was great to see him.

The loss of virginity anecdote is inevitable so… I met him sophomore year, but I believe it was Junior year before I had stress tested him enough to consider him worthy. Basically we had a few beers and it wasn’t a big plan or anything but it happened and then we went to sleep, him thinking, probably ___________, and me thinking “that was the most boring thing ever” –.

What’s more interesting is that he lived in a fraternity and one of the odd things about his place was that he had built a loft for the bed so as to have room for a desk, dresser, and sofa in his room. The next morning, I woke up, remembered the event, and felt scummy. So I ambled out of the loft, gathered up my stuff and prepared to flee while the boyfriend and now and forever holder of my V card* slept. To my horror, I discovered that the corner of the loft was blocking the door. I am not good with engineering, but I am pretty sure the reason was that when he built his loft, it did not block the door, but that said loft shifted this way or that when you put a person into it. So there I was, recently de-virginized at 6am with my nylons falling out of my handbag, crawling, in a dress and high heels, out the window of a fraternity house so I could be back at the sorority house by 7am for what’s known as “bed check”. It’s exactly what it sounds like, and I missed it. All that said, no regrets. Social, otherwise: I met a lot of great people and in addition to the above mentioned boyfriend, had another boyfriend who was also excellent – and one who was not so great but I got rid of him after a date or two. I still have several girlfriends from college and despite my jokes about SLU basically being a silly feel goodery, I got a decent education – as long as you don’t count math or economics.

Sports: I swam. SLU is a division three school, which meant it was more like a club and the main goal was more to swim off beer pong weight and have something to do between 4 and 6 pm than to actually achieve anything terms of wins and losses at meets. That said, I was never much good at it and looking back at the experience now, I wonder why I did that to my hair, all things considered, because I ran a lot and the running was what really kept me sane. All this and the brief stint as a beginning ballerina - and there you have it.

Family: My brother was majoring in Fine Art at Syracuse and my sister was a punk rocker who dyed her hair black and upset my parents a great deal by using fountain pen ink to give herself a tattoo. My junior year they moved to Dallas. I spent a summer there (fell in love with a guy who I sort of wanted to marry until I realized that I still had a whole lot left to learn) and then spring break of my senior year, my dad showed up at school to tell me a) the family was moving to North Carolina and b) my mother’s cancer was back and c) would I mind putting off moving to New York so I could spend time at home with mom? After graduation I moved to North Carolina and began a sort of half life working temp jobs and taking care of mom as much as that was possible to do. Thus ended college. (Until I went to graduate school).

* I talked to him on Facebook last week. Neither of us mentioned any of this.

Your turn.


Avitable said...

That V card story sounds like something out of a cliched college movie!

Jane Gassner said...

Gosh, now that I know how blonde and busty you are, I'm even more impressed with your college career. It just fits into my fantasy of what real co-eds (read 'not Jewish') were like in college.