When I attended the Erma Bombeck Humor Writers’ Workshop in Dayton this spring, I re-dedicated myself to humor writing. I promised myself that I would write funny pieces, steer clear of all mommy wars controversies, and not engage in rage-filled political diatribes that are bound to surface in an election year.
I wanted none of it. I would stick to writing humorous posts about home and hearth and children. (By the way, I don’t know what hearth means, so I hope that no one else does either.)
I was set. I’d found my niche.
But then last week’s Sunday New York Times Magazine had a story about Prep School Predators on its cover and all my humor writing intentions have gone to hell.
Because the story is about my high school, about the time that I was a student there.
I read it with shock and recognition– some of the accounts I’d heard before others were completely new and unfathomable. The conduct alleged– sexual assault by male faculty members on male students and a decided lack of action by the administration are harrowing. It’s been almost two weeks now (the article came out online the Wednesday before it was published in print) and I still haven’t caught my breath.
It’s taking me a long time to process this, and generally I’m not a slow processor. I’m learning things about some teachers I admired, I’m reliving my high school years, I’m reuniting with some of my classmates.
Which is huge for me. I felt like an outsider in high school, a kid who didn’t belong, who had few friends. For these reasons I cringe at the thought of me in high school. I’ve been cringing since I’d been graduated , so long that I have not attended a single alumni event in the decades since graduation, I gladly missed every reunion and I’ve crossed the street when I thought I spotted a former classmate.
So for me to now have online conversations with people who knew me back then has been truly transformative.
But I’m struggling. I’m truly struggling and I feel like my world doesn’t make any sense.
I have so many questions.
I have so much sadness.
I want so much to go back in time to speak up for those classmates who were so miserably failed by the very people who were supposed to have been looking out for them.
I know that I want to return to humor writing at some point, but right now I just can’t.
Right now I need to cry and to hold my children close and to remember that we were children once too.
And to cry some more.
Please hang in there with me.
One year ago ...
- Igigjhiehg'ij - 2011