William and Mary is the first place I fell in love … with a place.
While it was a challenge to decide on William and Mary, by week two of being here I was certain that this was the place for me—I still remember the exact spot on the Dupont triangle where I came to that conclusion. From the beginning of our relationship, W&M and I have had our challenges; homesickness, Banner fights, GER struggles, intense amounts of pollen, and more have tried to pull us apart. Almost five years later, however, we’re still together, still going strong (5 points if you got the Shania Twain reference—the first CD I loved.)
William and Mary is where I fell in love with brick pathways, traffic that always yields to pedestrians, a backyard full of people in costume being photographed by people in tropical shirts, learning for the sake of learning, Indian food, some of my best friends, wordy and confusing theory articles, social justice work, the words hegemonic, problematic and compulsory heteronormativity, scarves, feminism, TED Talks, curling, and so many other things. William and Mary is where I learned what it is to wake up and whether the day was going to be wonderful or awful, be grateful that I was here in this place to live it. That’s what I call a committed relationship.
Want proof? One of William and Mary’s newer events is “I am W&M,” a week in the spring during which the campus celebrates the diversity of William and Mary in many ways. Students are provided T-shirts, and last year’s included a blank on the back to be filled in. Here’s mine:
Always love wearing this
I wanted to blog-confess my love for William and Mary in part because, well that’s what you do when you’re in love. But I also wanted to tell you something else my love for William and Mary has done—it’s taught me what it is to love places and brought me to other places I love. I’ve told you that I run the weekly listserv full of volunteer and internship opportunities in community engagement. Well two years ago when the listerv was under the management of my dear friend and inspiration, Allison Anoll, she posted an item about working for the Civic Leadership Institute in Baltimore (in simplest terms it’s a social justice summer camp for high-achieving high school students). At the time, I had intended to stay in Williamsburg for the summer through a W&M program, but I was not selected (yep, this relationship has even survived rejection). So I applied to CLI, was offered a position with their summer staff, and spent a month in Charm City.
And once again I fell in love. The past two summers I have spent at CLI have been nothing short of incredible. Even loving my Senior year at William and Mary, I felt a count-down for the time I would return to Baltimore—it really is hard to be in a love triangle. But one of the greatest things about CLI is that I didn’t fully have to leave W&M. The first summer I worked with Rachel Warrick ’10, to whom I owe a great debt for being the one to suggest Allison put CLI on the listserv. She is currently serving in the Peace Corps. This past summer I worked with Wesley Ng ’11 and Jason Blackwell ’10. Wes is a former Branch Out Student Director and is now also serving in the Peace Corps–no surprise there.
The last dance of 2010–Rachel (second to the left) had dutifully taken a pie to the face earlier in the week while I streaked my hair grape purple in celebration of a successful session.
Showing Tribe Pride with Wes at the last 2011 dance. Yes, I know I did the W&M in reverse-Tribe Pride nonetheless.
So whatever places I travel to and wherever else I fall in love, I know that William and Mary is my first love and that love means William and Mary will always be home.
From the first flirtations of Freshman year…
Requisite TJ picture from first weekend at W&M
… to Senior year proposals,
I’m still waiting on your answer TJ…
… I am in love with William and Mary!