Thursday, December 8, 2016

I met Amie Reilly at the Fordham Graduate English orientation. She was the only other person with young children in the program. We panicked and commiserated and pep-talked each other throughout the two years and huddled after class and ran to a bar called Not Carmines and felt discouraged and near tears and read each other's papers and talked about how hard it was to show up in class worried about the paper you were handing in or the presentation you had to give or reading you had to analyze -yes- but also worried about whether right at that moment someone was calling your phone set to silent about pink eye or forgotten lunch for a field trip or the wrong clothes packed or worse about whether or not the person who was supposed to pick up your 6-year-old at the bus would remember to pick your 6-year-old up at the bus and a million other things that were tugging at you at that moment. You weren't supposed to be in grad school with children. It was obvious from the start. Not young children, and not if you are a woman. A man can hang up all the baby pictures he likes. Everyone knows there's no big pull there, for most of them, no guilt, no anxiety, no expectation that you be everywhere at once, like Owl in Arnold Lobel's Owl at Home who thinks if he runs fast enough he can be upstairs and downstairs at the same time.

Amie is now living the dream post-Master's life, teaching two courses at Sacred Heart University and writing beautiful creative pieces like this one


(By chance, or not chance, she lives in the Connecticut town where I have often dreamed of living, where we spent most of the Christmases of my childhood, most of the July 4ths, so many summer days, falling asleep on the wicker couch on the porch, ambient air swollen with the smell of crushed blackberries and honeysuckle vines, resonant with the surging sound of the tide coming in, squishy flip-flops up the walkway, the screen door clanking open and shut, bright with red bathing suits and yellow towels hung on the line to dry, shapeless peppermint ice cream days that ended with the heady smell of salt air permeating the room as we slept.)

7 comments:

  1. Crushed blackberries and honeysuckle vines...love it

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  2. I can't imagine grad school with small kids...you were very brave to do it.

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  3. Thank you Bearette for these lovely posts. It wasn't a wise decision, in retrospect.

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  4. There is something so special about friendships forged through challenging times, friendships that sustain us. What a fortuitous meeting, and then the overlap of the same small town. It's like real-life magic, isn't it? I'm swooning over your description of the beach--it has me wishing for summer already. It's interesting for me to read about the difficulties of juggling grad school and young ones because I've been thinking nonstop about grad school since Isabella was born. I'm still trying to figure it all out...

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  5. Yes, so true Sarah. "Forged through challenging times..." I love that. It really is like real-life magic! & The fact that you live there too! I got into that grad-school obsession...(obviously). Also, you have already spent so much time w/ I. one-on-one where as with Petra I was working her first year (had her home w/ me but working on several massive non-profit projects) and then began grad school when she was just a little over one. It might be quite different for you to begin after you've dedicated yourself so intently to these early years. Then again (this is getting into really unhelpful, rambling territory) I felt in some ways more guilt/sadness/anxiety toward Wally, who was at the end of first grade when I began, then I did toward Petra. Almost like it was a betrayal not to be at dinner or able to tuck him in or pick him up from school etc. Also the fact that I can't afford to use my degree right now makes the whole thing all the more absurd.

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  6. Thank you for the shout out and above all else, for reaching out to me that hot and sweaty orientation day. I don't know how I would have survived those two years without you- the commiserating, the connection, the empathy...the delicious tacos and margaritas, and your encouragement were truly a saving grace, and our continued friendship is something I cherish.

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  7. That day - oh how long ago it seems, right Amie? I would never have survived w/out you.

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