Though the residency is hardly over – heck, I don’t even graduate until a week from today – the element I worried about the most is now past tense: I delivered my lecture on boy books to my peers.
Due to some funky scheduling issues, I had the distinction of being the only event scheduled at an odd time, something I hadn’t noticed until it was pointed out to me. At 1:05 PM I nervously took the podium, opened my mouth, blinked, and it was an hour later.
If I had any worries about delivering a dicey topic to a hostile audience, it was foolishness. Vermont College has the most open-hearted and welcoming participants around, and their words of encouragement and support was beyond anything I could have imagined.
As for the experience itself, the lecture, the overall feeling was a bit like a roller coaster. Yes, that’s a tired metaphor, but it isn’t the ride I’m talking about, it’s the anticipation. You get in line and you watch as the riders in front of you (the classes before me in this case) step up and get on. You study their nervousness and excitement, and you’re still in the line when they get off hooting and hollering they survived. Another class gets on the ride, you inch closer, and you can see the shift in their intensity, the way they reason whether it is better to sit in the front or the back of the ride. What seemed like an impossible wait at the beginning has morphed into impossible anticipation.
Today was lecture day and I was in the front of the line. At 1:05 it was my turn to take a seat and pull down the safety bar. There was a lurch and the climb up that first incline, and then free-fall to the end of the ride that seemed over in a flash. The ride ends, and while I’m leaving to the sound of applause I see the faces of those classes behind my class waiting in line, unable to imagine themselves at the front of the ride, unable to believe they will ever survive.
But we do. We weren’t the first and we won’t be the last.
And it might be a while before we get the chance to ride again.
And that’s okay, too.