Snapshot 1c: Harvard Yard

Continued from Friday, September 21 post

I didn’t love Harvard. I love the friends I made and the doors that opened. Thanks to Harvard, I spent my sophomore summer in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala learning Spanish and volunteering at a group home for abused girls. I love the chapel in the Catholic student center and the u-shaped hall in Leverett Tower that my suitemates and I called home for three years. My friends, summer, the chapel, and the u were sanctuaries.

I love that I finished. But until that afternoon Desirée and I walked through Cambridge, I felt more like a survivor than a graduate. The first time I entered the Yard, I was eighteen years old, and I wasn’t prepared for Harvard. I was a perfectionist. I was in over my head and didn’t know how to ask for help. I missed my family, my boyfriend. I missed beans, pinto beans, and dirt and the sun. And I didn’t know how to say any of this out loud, so I was quiet in class, and when I came home for breaks, I said that everything was fine. And worse, I became a student recruiter and would spend a few days every fall driving to high schools and middle schools around New Mexico and El Paso, convincing other working class students of color that they should go to Havard too. I wasn’t lying. It’s an amazing place. I would go again because Harvard taught me to finish what I start, to question, to listen and read and research and write.

As long as I can be remember, I’ve been haunted by a specter that says I should be better than I am. It assumes that each project I take on will end in disaster, and so I work like mad to avoid calamity. When I do well, the ghost tells me I got lucky. It’s easy to blame Harvard; the ghost was heaviest there. But the spirit traveled with me to Belize, Oaxaca, El Paso, and back to New Mexico. It shrinks in the light, and I have been blessed to have a lot of light in my life the last several years—las mujeres de Oaxaca, Malinche’s Daughter, Henry, P. and K., my work, community, dear friends whose love endures despite distance and busyness, organic vegetables grown on our land, our land, Tierra Encantada, mi familia, los abuelos que se han convertido en angelitos, the elders, teachers, el arte, español, la palabra.

Desirée and I entered Harvard Yard through the mighty gates. It wasn’t scary anymore.

Thank you, specter, for your service. This is a new time. In love and gratitude, I release you.

Advertisements
Published in: on September 24, 2012 at 12:31 pm  Comments (2)  

The URI to TrackBack this entry is: https://michelleotero.wordpress.com/2012/09/24/snapshot-1c-harvard-yard/trackback/

RSS feed for comments on this post.

2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I love this!

  2. “I was in over my head and didn’t know how to ask for help.” Wow…if one sentence could sum up my first 3 semesters at Harvard, that would be it. And that ghost that followed you also found it’s way to my dorm room. I hope one day to bid it farewell, too. For now, I’m just in awe of your perspective and insight. Thanks, my friend. What a gift it was to have a weekend with all of you.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Jennifer Givhan, Poet & Novelist

Landscape with Headless Mama

Anel I. Flores

Tejana, chicana, lesbiana, writer and artist

Demetria Martinez: Secrets of Joy

Author, Activist and Creativity Coach

marydudley's Blog

This WordPress.com site is the bee's knees

Stepping into Magic: an actor's journey...

"Be not afraid of greatness: some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them" ~William Shakespeare

Vessel

a person regarded as a holder or receiver of something, esp. something nonmaterial

%d bloggers like this: