Today was more Ian day. Kind of like if American Idol finalists went
back to their alma mater and were awarded for intellectual achievement
instead of singing.
Today, we went back to Sarah Lawrence where my brother was awarded an
outstanding alumna award. I received an outstanding alumna award several
years ago from Webster University but this was a different deal.
Webster is a good school with a global outreach and admirable philosophy
that education is for everyone: undergrads, office workers, people in
Sarah Lawrence has a very selective admissions process, a legendary
small class ratio of 6:1 and a roster of graduates that reads like a
contemporary who's who: Barbara Walters. Alice Walker. Jill Clayburgh.
Yoko Ono. Ann Patchett.
Etc. Etc. Etc.
It is a very special place. And while I have mostly made peace with
myself around my life choices, there will always be a small part somewhere
that wishes I had gone to school there. That knows that it would have
been a very good fit for me and that the direction of my life might
be different had I gone there.
Undoubtably, I would have been an artist. Given the luxury of any option,
Kim, like you, there is nothing else that made sense for me. But I might
well have felt less isolated in my work. The theatre community in St.
Louis does not know what of me. Someone who stepped away from some degree
of traditional success as both a producer and a playwright to do a different
kind of community based work.
There were three recipients today. One was Margot Farley, the managing
artistic director of The Acting Company at Julliard. Another was a pediatric
radiologist. And then there was my brother. Dr. Science.
My sister also went to Sarah Lawrence. My sister who is four years younger
As I have been chatting with various staff members throughout the weekend,
their puzzlement towards me is discernible although not spoken. And
there has been an air of quiet disappointment, as if by not going to
Sarah Lawrence, I broke a potential winning streak. What a poster
the three of us would have made.
I ought to do the poster. It is hard to comment. Reading is easier.
To comment I need to move the text through my body...I guess that
is called digesting. And it is not that I'm hungry. All these inane
and insane things go through my head at the end of the day. Sometimes
it is like adding another thing to what seems in my brain like very
When I told the director
of something or other—you know how these institutions are, there
is a director of annual giving, of occasional giving, of semi regular
giving, please give—that I was a writer and director and had gone
to college elsewhere, he raised an eyebrow and said, you seem like a
Sarah Lawrence girl. You certainly fit the profile.
I agreed and gave him a funny version of a story I thought I could live
I said that I was only a year and a half younger than my brother and
that we had gone to the same small high school at the University of
Chicago Laboratory School. That I had not wanted to go to another school
where perhaps he might be going out with my friends.
We both laughed at this version and I went off in search of a drink.
The other version, the rest of the story which was at least as valid,
is that when I visited my brother at Sarah Lawrence, I was quietly and
privately terrified of the beautiful, sophisticated and self assured
young women I saw on the campus. And while by that time, the campus
had male student—my brother was in the first male class to graduate—there
were many more women than men.
The unvarnished truth was that I did not trust myself to go to Sarah
Lawrence. I was afraid I would become a lesbian.
How ironic that I did not give that version to the director of such
and such, who was clearly a gay man. I could have come out to
him and we could have had a good chuckle over that one. But
somehow, I knew that would not be appropriate.
guess part of this was that even Joan, who is always herself, cared
that she didn't embarrass her brother. And at a place that is legendary
for free thinking.
And how much more ironic
that I went to Webster in conservative old St. Louis, lived with one
boyfriend in my freshman year, broke up with him and got another boyfriend,
slept with countless others and by my junior year, I was sneaking into
gay bars in the Central West End and desperately trying to connect with
Saturday, June 3, 2006