Thursday, May 25, 2006

The Road I Found Myself On

While I have been tracing my life along its road, I realized there were three crucial turns. I set out on a road my parents hadn’t planned for me and that I never envisaged for myself. This change in the road I would take happened in the space of a few weeks. My high school English teacher persuaded my parents to send me to Mount Holyoke College. She arranged an interview well after the admission deadline, and I am sure that she had a hand in getting me a scholarship. My first year there was a revelation. That is not just hyperbole. I did feel that my whole way of thinking had been reorganized through the books I studied – Before Philosophy, Patterns of Culture, the work of TS Eliot, for example, through the lectures, and especially by the professors pushing us hard. No easy writing was tolerated. I remember one comment especially from that first year, by my freshman English professor, Miss Brock: “This is intolerably slovenly.” The comment referred not only to my hideous handwriting, but to my disorganized, slapdash thinking and my sloppy writing. Up until then I had got by on my natural wits, but after that first year, I learned to struggle, learned that even with these wits, nothing would come easy.

The major left turn in the road was the birth of our first child. The third was really a fork in the road, our decision to come to New Brunswick. The decision was agonizing, but this city turned out to be the perfect spot for us as a family and for me especially. It was as if God had created a place just for me and in an unlikely move, conspired to set me down in it. Landing here fulfilled a prophecy that came in a favorite song my dad, my brother and I would sing: I found “a spot that’s known to God alone.”

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
Robert Frost, “The Road Not Taken”

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