Coming to Evergreen has felt like the great opening-up experience of my life. Perhaps it's just the West, or all I've been told about the West-- the broad expanses and uninhibited people. Or perhaps it's the freedom of having a full-time job that pays money. Whatever the reason, I feel that I'm doing what I want to do for the first time in my life.
But that's false.
A year ago I scratched an idea for a dissertation on Neo-Latin pastoral poetry, the fruit of years of work, and went to work on Thomas Hardy's novels because they interested me. I had a yen to creep up on the twentieth century, where my students were, instead of backing myself into closets of obscurity. And earlier, when I graduated from college, I took off for Harlem to do youth work and to teach in store-front schools for high school drop-outs, instead of going to graduate school in Classics. And before that, at the end of my sophomore year in college, I was seduced away from history by Greek language and literature, so I went ahead and had a brief fling with it, against the advice of practically everybody. In fact, even my choice of a college, known as a rah-rah cheerleader-type place, presented a sidestepping of moral imperatives--I should have gone to Radcliffe and been a grind.
But there has been more fulfillment of ought than of desire in my life. These seemingly willful and perverse decisions were socially acceptable. Strangely, it was doing the ought, living up to a father's sense of adventure, that got me into the most trouble. While in college I bought a car in Paris and, after studying archaeology in Greece for a summer, ran around Europe getting into accidents. The last one in Yugoslavia was almost fatal; it resulted in a six month hospitalization and many deferred dreams. The nine years since then have been spent slowly regaining health and the ability to live independently.
That must be the real reason why coming to Evergreen seems like a new life to me.
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