When I landed in Eugene, Oregon at 23 ready (I thought) to embark on graduate school I wondered what my classmates might be like. Here’s what I knew to be true from the information packet I’d received: there would be six of us, all women, from all over the country. One woman had been a teacher in Samoa, one had an English degree, one was moving from New York where she’d worked as a book editor, one was coming from the best journalism school in the country and one worked with at an alternative high school.
As a whole they seemed like world traveling, smarty-pants and scary deal makers, far older than me, and, I was sure, wiser. I was a newspaper reporter from the South with an affection for southern literature. On paper, they terrified me. The morning we were to meet I was so nervous that I went for a 10-mile run before orientation to try and quell my nerves. When I arrived I saw four other women about my age who looked as uneasy and uncertain as I felt. I quietly matched their faces to the bios I’d read and stopped holding my breath. About 15 minutes into a speech from the graduate school director everyone turned to the creak of the door opening. A tall woman with wavy hair and stood to face everyone. She was late and she looked a little taken aback by everyone staring at her. After a few uncomfortable seconds we realized she was our sixth. In a pair of Patagonia shorts and a t-shirt, our book editor had arrived. This just might be okay, I thought. [Read More]