It was a crisp Friday night in January of ’09, and I was intent on having some “me” time. Departing from the Wellesley Hillel, I ventured towards the lake, ready to partake in the magical midnight walk around the glistening waters.
In my haste, however, I neglected to mention to any of my fellow biddies that I was embarking on said journey. Fast forward two hours. It is approximately 2 am, and I return to my dorm ready to embrace my inner idealist once more. Upon entering my dorm room, I am greeted by a group of six girls– all apparently praying for my safety and contemplating whether to put in a call to campus police.
My roommate, the most concerned of all, is shocked to see I am in entirely one piece. I should note that this incident occurred around the time of the Wellesley town fondler, who had a propensity for appearing on Wellesley’s campus, dropping his pants, and giving himself a spiritual experience upon encountering a student. And yes, I somehow managed to forget or neglect that fact when I decided to frolic through the Wellesley wilderness.
Now while my roommate had thought the worst, another friend, Caroline, quickly chimed in that she knew I was all right; that I could survive in the desert for a week, so long as it had a local coffee ship; and that she completely understood and supported my need for personal space.
Tuning into the sense of urgency that had seemed to permeate the room, I replied, “Um, what are you all talking about? I just went for a walk, a thing I do every so often when the eat-less-challah bug strikes me.” But then it all began to sink in. This was my George Bailey moment (a la It’s a Wonderful Life), when I saw my life without me in it. And while I had been enduring a rather painful sophomore slump, in that instant I was reminded that I was significant. At least to six girls in that crowded dorm room.
While watching “The Mountaintop” on Broadway this evening, I recalled that night three years earlier. While I am no Martin Luther King, Jr, I have a reason to fight. To be “the best possible Yaffa I can be,” as Mama B would say. I may not move as many mountains as he did, but like him, I have and should fight to stay alive, to fight the good fight, and to leave the world slightly better than in the state I found it.
It’s a cliched goal– no doubt. But it’s one that every so often, when I endure the inevitable post-holiday depression, I gravitate towards. It’s my calorie-free soul food, which manages to give me an ounce of comfort when the temperatures are below freezing, I am facing the brink of July unemployment, and kittens are chasing after me like they know something about my future I don’t know.
Ernest Hemingway once said, “Forget your personal tragedy. We are all bitched from the start and you especially have to be hurt like hell before you can write seriously. But when you get the damned hurt, use it-don’t cheat with it.” So here I am channeling that hurt away, all the while wishing I could head back to Wellesley for a midnight stroll. (FYI, avid readers, this is your warning should I disappear from cyberspace for more than two hours.)