[note: this post started the day after graduation and finished now]
Yesterday, wilting in sweat, to cheers I did not hear for nerves, and with feet bare to feel the ground beneath me, I walked across a stage, accepted a diploma case and hurried back to my seat. I guess that was my moment, or something. But it wasn’t, really. I’m proud to graduate from Wellesley College not because of the long lineup of papers, psets and projects that my brain birthed, and my diploma will give me credit for, but because of the ways that my heart has been melted and reformed, again and again, to be more vulnerable, more sensitive, more open, more willing to love in many different shapes and ever-larger sizes. And that, dear ones, is a credit to you, not to me.
I would like to write an ode to you, my heart melt people. [in moderate chronological order]
To Dani, who was the first person to welcome me to this campus and teach me that mentorship can come in the form of a powerful lipsync stage presence, paper owls and sharing your own stories of struggle.
To Fiona, first college dance buddy, first real college friend and fellow ‘free spirit’. You taught me to keep those laugh-about-who-knows-what folks around forever.
To all the Whiptails who taught me that weirdness is a lifestyle, family is the people who take you to the ER and give you kale and make you (it’s not very difficult…) wear weird patterns on Fridays, and that a Frisbee holds 48 fluid ounces. You reminded me to be my wackiest self always.
To MickyD/AJ, especially, who taught me how to love love love kale, reminded me to stay SO EXCITED ABOUT ALL OF THE BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE!!! and kept me sane when I needed to get away from Swelles and eat some home cooking. You’re not done seeing a lot of me!
To Anna, appreciator of lemon wedges, lover of whales, prodigious hair touseler, and the kindest, gentlest, gingerest person I’ve ever had the privilege to know. You taught me to appreciate simple things like daily hugs, prioritizing mental health (maybe not so simple…) and mulled wine. You have taught me how to do secure attachment. You have taught me a little bit about how to love myself. You have taught me to recognize belovedness a little bit better.
To Winnie, one of the most accidentally funny and deliciously wonderful people who’s graced this year. I will miss so much your many-times-daily hugs, your adorable laugh, and your gym motivation (I swear I never work that hard on my own). I wish you realized just how awesome you are!
To Abby (or should I say 1/2 of Savabby?), who kept me laughing (and annoying the heck out of professors) through parallel major switches, taught me to embrace the inevitable pre-snuggs awkwardness and give fantastic hugs, and kept Large Cosmic Thoughts ever close to the surface. Please keep teaching me the meaning of badass and the secret to survival against all odds.
To Aili, who melts me into a puddle of love every time I see her. How?! You have held me, literally, hypothetically, metaphorically and physically, through some rough times, and you have taught me what true appreciation and true conversational and emotional presence can look like.
To all my therapists, past and present (except Jane…. Jane was awful) who helped me learn how to feel my pain instead of understand it, and put up with me even when articulating what hurt was too scary to consider. I cry more now and feel a little lighter in part thanks to many hours when you must have been frustrated by my walls but didn’t show it.
To Sormeh Sorbet, who taught me the importance of koala hugs (even if I am always the tree), the joys of gratuitous selfies after gooshy frisbee in the hallways, and how to let go and go wild even in times where the stress tries to suffocate.
To Mer Bear, who got me through way too many angsty freak-outs and has persevered as a friend (somehow!), reminding me what thoughtfulness, great playlists, letters and beautiful intellectualism really are in human form. You are such a gem!
To all of you who I have kissed and who have kissed me back on Lake Walks™, in Tower Court back corridors, amidst the dripping red of Pub Nite, on dewy Saturday mornings, in art museums, on Chilean rocks slick with salt spray and driving mist, and after workouts or late night pilgrimages home from Sci Cent. You, each and every one of you (and you know who you are) has made my heart a roomier place. I feel forever grateful. You, each and every one of you, I have walked away from wishing I knew how to hold you closer and share better the beating of my heart. I apologize, I am deeply sorry, for any pain I may have caused you and I will remember, forever, the pleasure of your presence. May God bless every step you take.
To all the FFW superstars. We did so much, and were so young, and did so much! Ya’ll have great style, great souls and were the first to teach me how movements are born: in coop kitchens, empty classrooms and on Monday nights when it’s cold outside but the fire in your belly burns right. I can’t wait to read articles about the ways you’ve shaken the world in years to come….heck, right now!
To MR, who just knows how to have such a good time and bring other people along, whether it’s in the form of food, spirits or weird Wellesley dance parties. Your smile warms my heart. Your struggle feels so close to mine. Your compassion teaches me to see gentle beauty in everyone around me.
To Lily, who is the most radical, the most activist, the most sparkplug of a human bean I know. You have taught me how to never settle, how to always fight, and that poetry and feelings are how we’re going to destroy capitalism.
To all the SLAP babies (you know who you are), you give me hope for the future of the [Wellesley] world and you taught me, again and again, how important the sharing of our stories in community is. Fuck shit up!
To Tina, whose beautiful mind awed me from afar while I was in Chile, and whose thoughtfulness and soft laughter has graced this year of mine. Your writing has deeply touched me and taught me the pulsing vulnerability of a vivid metaphor, the tidbits of life you’ve shared with me have embodied deep integrity, your soul shines brightly and my own unfurls slowly to reach it.
To my home-guards, Ika and Annie and Syd and Zilpa and Jessie and Holland especially, who kept me laughing through heatstroke, interminable lunch shifts, and even WSA. Why did we ever take WSA?!? What were we thinking!!!
To all you random and oft smiley beings who brought sunshine to cloudy days and hugs when I felt alone –Prioty, Grace Park, Maya, Aggie, Emma Howey, Claire Verbeck, Carey Cabrera, Quinn, Callie and more. I miss you dearly and will carry you with me always.
To the human being who’s known me longer than I’ve known myself: Elena, I’ve learned so much about friendship, integrity, face symmetry in selfies, how to be gluten free and have fun at the same time, infectious laughter and root vegetables. I feel so grateful to still find so much joy in the mutual life accompaniment that is and has been our friendship, that we can enjoy each others many textures, whether they’re intellectual, emotional or ridiculous. I may never catch up to you in age, or speed, or publishing in academic journals, but I guarantee I’ll be there when you’re ready to paint Chicago orange. I’ve been thinking a cheery tangerine would be nice 🙂
To Sam. You have gotten me through so much. No words. Knowing you has taught me how to know myself. I just wish I could calculate how many miles we’ve walked in loops around Ripon and how many terabytes of data Skype has had to whizz across cyberspace on our behalf because that is the only way I know how to put into words how much you have grown my heart.
To Jackie, mistress of Lulu wraps (I swear, this woman knows how to wrap a wrap better than anyone else on this planet), of caring soul and ready smile. You were one of my many de facto college mothers, and I’m so grateful for all the times you asked how I was doing and really cared how I answered. I swear I’ll be back for some pesto mayo and avocado on a Friday near you!
A María Alicia y Juan, my de facto parents in Chile, les quiero mucho y extraño más. María Alicia, me enseñaste un nivel de cercanía y apoyo y cariño que nunca antes había experimentado y que llevo conmigo siempre. Y Yonny, estaré siempre tan agradecida por las conversaciones largas que compartimos durante el almuerzo esos días en casa, y los churros, por supuesto 🙂
To Normita, querida Normita. Fue sólo después de Chile que comencé a entender cuánto me salvaste la vida allá, cuánto necesitaba tu compañía, y cuánto me has fortalecido en los últimos años, y estoy tan feliz que te pude visitar recién. Gracias por compartir conmigo tus historias de alegría, fortaleza, pena y resistencia. Besitos para siempre, washitaaaa!
To Lynn and Bruce, benevolent overlords of the KSC. There were more times than I can count when our 2-second-to-20-minute conversations were some of the brightest spots in my day. Thank you for joking with me, caring about me, covering my ass on those days when I forgot my uniform or key card or some other necessary thing, and most of all for being there, day after day, to take care of all us tired souls orbiting your domain.
A Marta, que trabaja en las cocinas de Wellesley y me recuerda de la alegría, la fortaleza y el espíritu indominable de las mujeres latinas (Salvadoreñas, especialmente). Quizás nunca sabrás cuánto me apoyaste en mis últimas semanas de Wellesley cuando escribía por horas interminables durante el día y mi único descanso fueron nuestras cenas accidentales juntas. Ojalá te veré de nuevo algún día en Stone D y podremos platicar y reír de nuevo juntas!
To the humans of Contemplative Action Circles, especially you on the gathering planning team who I got to know better (you know who you are!) who taught me that vulnerability is a practice that I can get better at and that “mmmmm” means “my heart touches yours” or “this vegan chili is amazing” or “hell yeah let’s start a revolution of faith and nonviolent direct action!”. Thank you for teaching me how to deep connect and Life Together before I even got here.