I’ve already sent in a Valentine’s Day letter for my St. Mike’s friend group, but I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge what is perhaps my greatest St. Mike’s love story: my love for my two favorite professors, Carey Kaplan & Nat Lewis.
The truth is, I seriously considered transferring out of St. Mike’s on more than one occasion. I had a boyfriend back home, and a group of really close friends with whom I grew up. They all stayed local. I basically wrote Mindy Kaling’s memoir in my head, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, long before she did. I was homesick. And I was COLD. I made friends quickly in Vermont, and got into a groove, but there were moments when missing my place and my people felt overwhelming. I questioned whether I had made the right decision.
Whenever I experienced those moments of homesickness, however, they were countered with positive moments in the classroom. Whenever I questioned whether I belonged, Nat & Carey unknowingly provided the answer to my doubts: a resounding “YES.” I felt it when I read Moby Dick with Nat, and stared with him into the abyss. I felt it on Fridays when papers were due, and Carey would read us soothing short stories and give us vocabulary words for the weekend. I felt it when she asked us for derogatory gender-specific insults, and we spat example after example at her, while she keeled over with her hands on her knees, crying tears of laughter at the ludicrousness of it all. I felt it when she and Nat burst into a duet of The Beatles’ “Why Don’t We Do It in the Road?” Each time I thought about leaving, I found that I couldn’t… because I knew that there was nowhere else in the world where I would encounter spirits as generous and goofy as theirs. Nowhere but St. Mike’s (and nobody but the professors of its brilliant English department) could provide me with an education as weird and as wonderful as the one that I received.
I’m so thankful to Nat and Carey. Staying at Saint Michael’s College was the right choice for me. The relationship with my then-boyfriend ended (as they tend to do when you’re in your early 20’s). I’m still friends with those with whom I grew up; yes, everyone was hanging out without me… but they hadn’t forgotten me. I made a handful of new, lifelong friends. I read so many books I otherwise might not have read, and was exposed to so many ideas and theories that I otherwise might never have encountered. I honed my writing skills. I learned about beauty, desire, sincerity, artifice, textual pleasure, and American Literature. I also learned that “home” doesn’t have to be a single place. Eventually, with their help – finding total acceptance, growth, and joy in the classroom – I realized that I didn’t have to miss “home” so much; I was “always, already” there.
Thanks, Nat & Carey!
Happy Valentine’s Day!
-Alyisha Waz ‘08
P.S. The picture on the right is a photo of me (and my husband) on my recent trip to Arizona. It was my first time traveling anywhere beyond the East Coast. I’m wearing a Moby Dick shirt in the desert. If that doesn’t scream “student of Nat Lewis” (and proud of it), I don’t know what does. 😉