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I had a couple of conversations that have stuck in my mind. They were with two of the folks behind the show. One of them played a powerful piece she wrote about 'the girl she could never have.' Her work, her voice - both literal and verbal - summed up the experience of so many women (and men) who have been denied love by a culture so bound up in sexual propriety based on religion or procreation or "unnatural" behavior. The damage done is amazing - and ever so much more than is seen. Her music may yet make it beyond the confines of her friends - she has demos made and being circulated.

The other conversation was with somebody who does not perform outside of these venues or family places. She has talent and expressiveness. She has personality that shines. But the performance side does not fit with her professional situation. "What would my students say if they saw me doing this?"

We talked about how their perceptions of her would alter - but how it might free them up to express sides of themselves not normally allowed 'out.'

I guess that is a lot of what this was about for me - in versus out. Within our communities, we can be more ourselves, let more out, let more be seen. Beyond them, more is hidden, more is reserved. More, indeed, is buried.

Yes, for some, there are the secret shames of things one doesn't want to admit to the community, either. "See - I'm reading PEOPLE MAGAZINE!" exclaimed a high powered professional to another who did her best to ignore it. "I love watching American Idol, too! (Or did until _____ was eliminated.)"

I loved talking to the economist and the lawyers, to the doctor and the event planner, to the psychologist who is currently being a mommy and researching on the side as a volunteer. There were multiple professors and a principal... and the list went on.

Then there were the support staff - those who stayed on to work reunion, either still students or just graduated. A dancer, a pair of double majors (econ and math, econ and classics), a genetics researcher...

The atmosphere was charged with folks who were and are inquisitive and thoughtful. It was a reflective experience. It still is.
joshwriting: (Default)
In 1991, two years after my marriage, my wife and I made a journey to her first college to celebrate the reunion of her classmates from her freshman and sophomore years. She transferred out of that college for any number of reasons, not the least of which was that the major she settled on was not one they supported.

She spent two years there vs. the three at her second college, her "alma mater." She graduated in '87, not '86. But after 1991, we repeated the experience in '96, '01, and now again in '06. We have not gone to reunions at the other place in '92, '97, or '02. I doubt that '07 would see a change in that trend.

Her first college was an all women's college (a girl's school, if you will). I was well familiar with it from years past, having known many a student from it and having 'gone out with' one, to grossly understate the case. The academics they presented were solid. The communities they built were more so, as far as I have ever been able to tell.

As a spouse rather than an alum, it is in some ways easier to cross "class" lines and mingle with those of earlier and later classes. The same sense I've gotten from Susan's group, I observe with those others as well. Susan's classmates were/are an extraordinary group of women. I think, though, that they are unexceptional as those groups go. Yes, there are probably those who did not bond with others, who did not get the community and communion that is so much a part of the experience she had - but more than at the overwhelming bulk of co-ed institutions, I think the communion is expected.

Not everybody likes everybody. There is not universal agreement even where there is dominant opinion. (There are folks there who voted for Bush and still have no doubts about their decision.) But there is love and caring and thought and feeling and consideration. Memorials to those who have passed are paid in the homilies and tales - but they are told, too, in shows and reviews and paintings. The impact of their lives is discussed and explored, not in a way that makes this exceptional, but in a way that makes such exploration a part of daily life among these women.

The class of '86 did a show as they did 5 years ago. It held less force in some ways, essentially because a force of nature had been taken from them. ( While there had been a memorial service to Jilline, the echoes of her passage were felt as keenly in the show. It was a different kind of show than the prior tour de force, more reflective and a celebration of life, less a celebration of talent.

The show was about what it is like to be 40 or just past, the pluses and minuses. There were poingant moments and funny bits. Punctuation was provided by letters to "Sister Seven," a mock-advice columnist and her oh so to the point responses. The writing and the songs spoke to hopes and dreams, pleasures and pains, solitude and community. The group did not formally record the show, which is a pity - I have indicated an interest in being able to share some specifics from it because I think it will speak to many of the folks I know - esp. in the Sheroes community, but not only there.
joshwriting: (Default)
Another death of a person known to me, but not close, a Bryn Mawrter acquaintence. Jillene was a bright light, a larger than life character who made a career on stage through force of personality. It is not that she didn;t have talent - there was talent aplenty.

It was more thatn Jillene infused a room with power, with glitz, and with sexual energy. She was a torch singer, for those who know the term, a belter, not a crooner.

I only saw her perform withinthe confines of BMC reunions and never in her own shows. My loss. I wished to, but never put the energy into making it happen.

Hers was from cancer and pneumonia, but no less shocking to me for that. She was 40ish, I guess.

*Toasts* Here's to Jillene - may she not be dead, but merely moving on to the next stage!


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