When I was 18, I got myself on a plane and flew from AZ to the east coast with my own money and enrolled in Randolph-Macon Woman’s College. (I went sight unseen as I couldn’t afford the college visit. I went off the catalog!)
It was the red brick liberal arts school of my dreams – and my dorm room looked out one of these windows you see here.
It was my brother at Caltech, who hung out with smart women, who said, “You should really think about applying to women’s college.” It was empowering to have him say that – for him to envision me going down an academic and ambitious path. The teeniest seeds matter! My brother was one of the only adults I knew that had gone to college.
Off I went. I experienced fall for the first time (!). I had open lesbian classmates, who always sat together in the dining room (I pretty much didn’t know what a lesbian was prior). I daringly went to a campus therapist for the first in my life and talked about my guilt for wanting to wear a bikini as a Mormon girl. I got mentored by a wicked smart feminist professor who assigned books by Alice Walker, smoked in her office (with me in there) near a velvet couch and piles of books. I was kind of scared of her. But I felt honored that she was taking me under her wing. She gave me an A with honors in writing, which was indeed one of the honors of my life as she was so cool it was intimidating. And my actual school-appointed mentor on campus was the school chaplain, a man who believed in me – and asked me to speak at the college Christmas celebration in the chapel. I was shy and to be honest – scared to death to speak publicly and also uncomfortable to even be in another church. I pretty much had never been in a another church other than the one I grew up in. I tried to get out of it. He wouldn’t let me. So I did it. I stood up to this lectern below a huge cross. And I shared a Christmas message.
It’s really fun to look back and see moments when the needle began to move in this evolution of my life; in my own development. This was a start – a start to pushing boundaries and getting to know this world in more intimate ways. I WAS SCARED back then. Scared of lesbians, people who smoked, public speaking, other religions, people. But how grateful I am for every bit of that exposure, and especially for every amazing human being that was a part of it.
When was a time when the needle began to move in your own evolution – when your eyes began to be opened wide to the outside world or new ideas? Did you find it frightening – or exciting?
With love always,
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