So as the universe seems to love me, from the Story point of view, I spent today at the wonderfully unlikely college I went to: Bryn Mawr. My Freshman English teacher, Sandra Wool, who wore no underwear, opened her eyes quite wide at me a little way into the first semester after I had written a few papers and expressed a few thoughts, and said "I would have thought Bennington."
It was quite the most elegant place on the planet. Beautiful young women in sweaters and saddle shoes whose fathers or uncles were Everybody. That you could be in the same room with them and they were kind, was some kind of Miracle. It was a privilege more than enough to make up for your beginnings in Pittsburgh, with your father trying to kill your mother, and the police coming, --years and a storied lifetime later, (THE MOTHERLAND), his becoming the mayor of Tucson, and a Republican yet.
So to return there on this Convocation day, whatever that means,
with the raising of tents and the setting up of chairs on the lawn for the graduation to come, was kind of an out-of-soul experience. Most apparent was the truth that nothing has really changed, except the approach to sexuality, which is now everywhere pointed out and pointed to, and I, as an admittedly old lady--that still comes as a surprise--find unnecessary and borderline funny. I just don't think that factors into how well you learn, or how much.
The college otherwise looks exactly the same as it did all that many years ago, except for the weather-streak marks on the roof between Pem West and Rock that I used to run over at night to sing my songs to Muggy, the prettiest girl in the class, that she was kind enough to applaud and encourage my doing more of, not seeming to mind being disturbed. It was a different world then: only the setting seems exactly unchanged. I feel good about that, although I am still stunned by how old I am. Well, if you're lucky to live long enough, that happens.
Had lunch in the Deanery-- we did have quaint names-- with beauteous Wendy Greenfield, in charge of alumnae, which it seems I am, and she is as bright and lovely as one would hope such a figure at Bryn Mawr would be. Afternoon I took in the campus, with its glorious trees siding Senior Row, its wonderful, great-stoned Gothic arch, roofs (why isn't it rooves?), glorious and unchanged since I was a Junior, my most memorable year because that was the one with the Show in it, that I wrote most of the songs for, and had the comedy lead in. With Miss McBride saying to my mother: "This was the most memorable theatrical event since Katharine Hepburn was an undergraduate here." And my mother looking after her, saying"Who was that?" as though she were saying "Who was that masked man?" And my saying, still barely able to speak, I was so overwhelmed, "the president of the college." And my mother: "I thought it was the washerwoman."
So that will tell you all you need to know about my mother, except that you had to forgive her because she was funny and smart and very beautiful as well as crazy. All these decades later, it plays out, because I have been to the best college in America, and so had a leg up that was twenty feet long.