Thursday, September 1, 2011

Same As It Ever Was

The postings on this site are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.

...Only More Satisfying

Last week, while Pat & I were vacationing in Alaska, our niece Zoe started her first year of college. In these days of Black Eyed Peas, Katy Perry and Fountains of Wayne, may she find life-long friends and suffer minimal turbulence while living apart from her parents and brothers for the first, real time. Zoe's milestone vividly takes me back to the days of Talking Heads, Madonna, Al Jarreau and Laurie Anderson, i.e., my freshman year, especially because Pat & I ended our trip with a couple of days of vacationing in Vancouver with two of the first friends I made in college.

Lisa, Marni and Sarah at the Vancouver Public Library

When I began college 28 years ago, I couldn't imagine affording an Alaskan vacation, nor that I would wed a woman. Still, as extraordinary as both events would have been to my 18-year-old mind, not so much about me has changed since then, other than seeming more relaxed. Lisa and Marni confirmed this for me. They're right. I am more at ease, since revealing a number of secrets.

The review of Wendy Wasserstein's biography that I read in last Sunday's "New York Times" reminded me of openness vs. secrets. As a sophomore, during a Women's Studies course, I read Wendy Wasserstein's play, "Uncommon Women and Others." The play focused on a post-college reunion by a group of female college friends.

As I read it, I found it comforting to see their post-grad development combined with effectively muscle-memory conversations with one another, as though they had never parted company. When I read the NYT review, the critic honed in on how, for all her wide-open writing, Wendy Wasserstein was a pretty secretive person when it came to her own life, e.g., not telling people that she was dying, plus some other earlier family secrets.

Don't many of us try to keep secrets? In college, mine were that I was more attracted to women than men; had an eating disorder, where I binged whenever I could; and also a number of family secrets that were my family's to tell, not mine. It never occurred to me that my friends probably had their respective collections of secrets as well.

Who knows what Zoe's secrets are? Or her friends'. I just pray that she can have the same warm, funny, challenging, healing, fun, earnest, sad, buoyant, hopeful time as Wendy Wasserstein's characters, Marni, Lisa and I had when she reunites with friends post-college.


Lisa LeVasseur said...

Re-reading this now, after having some time to process. :) You've hit on such a provocative facet of our mutual (and separate) experiences: secrets/secretiveness. I didn't even realize how secretive parts of my personal history were, and how adept I was at keeping it that way. When I look back, I mainly recall how open we all seemed (or at least it felt to me), and yet there were gaping holes of unknowns between all of us. How little we actually knew the logistics/history of how we each came to be the people we were! But how remarkable that 28 years later we come together and fill in some of those complicated "blanks" in our knowledge of each other, only to find that they don't really change the emotional bond of friendship. Our hearts were smart (thank goodness) and just knew.

Sarah Siegel said...

Nice that we had, and have, smart hearts! Am hanging onto the fun memories of our luxurious time for our reunion during this, my first day (and night) back to work after vacation.

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