It’s off to Middletown, CT for me this weekend, to Wesleyan University, where I’m receiving the Distinguished Alumna award from my alma mater, an award that clearly indicates just how far the market value of Distinguishment has fallen.
Wesleyan, where I studied from 1976-80 remains, after all this time, a place rife with mythology and memory for me. It’s where I met the love of my life, Deirdre (whom readers know as “Grace.”) It’s also the place where, for a little while, I most felt that I could succeed as a boy, if only I were smart and funny and fast enough. I was all of those at Wesleyan, which in the late 70s was a place of invention and weirdness and scholarship. It was the place where I first felt truly encouraged to be a writer. For all of that I’m so grateful, even if, in the end, being smart and funny and fast was– instead of the thing that enabled me to stay male– made it possible at last to find the courage to make my transition.
In a bit of irony surely not lost upon me, I’m being driven to Wesleyan by my sons, themselves now college students. Zach (Vassar College, drama major) and Sean (University of Rochester, probably Astrophysics and Mechanical Engineering double major) will throw me out the door of the Honda at Wesleyan, and they will then drive on to Maine and home, while I spend the weekend sleeping in my old freshman dorm and play (on Friday night) in the band for the all-college dance.
I am hoping we play “Terrapin Station,” an unlikely turn of events, but then stranger things have happened, especially on that campus. If so, I’ll sing these lines:
Let my inspiration flow in token rhyme, suggesting rhythm,
That will not forsake you, till my tale is told and done.
While the firelight’s aglow, strange shadows from the flames will grow,
Till things we’ve never seen will seem familiar.