1,364 pearls. Of Wisdom. Stemming from 1,364 days spent in this place that quickly became my home : Assumption College. We never dwell in the beginning on how we will change from point A to point B as we turn write the first capital letter to a new chapter in our lives. But this mini series will be a declaration of the lessons I have learned throughout my four years as a college student, away from the textbooks and power point presentations. A dedication to stunning individuals. A memoir to becoming unique. A love story with a place, people and precious pearls of wisdom. A love tale that took 1,364 days to write but would take a thousand more lifetimes to ever forget the moral of the story. I have always wanted a Dorothy story.

I was mistakenly casted as a munchkin in the fifth grade, somehow the director failed to realize I was meant to be Dorothy. To make up for the wrongdoings of the North Haven Drama Cooperative, I decided to direct my own production of the "Wizard of Oz" on the blacktop of my elementary school, appropriately starring as Dorothy. The production fell apart when the Wicked Witch fired the Lion the day that the Scarecrow and I were out sick.

I have the original script of the film memorized, and I spent countless weekends with my father scouring flea markets and antique shops for "Oz" memorabilia. But no matter how many signed photos from the original cast of munchkins I could aquire, I never had a story of my own to tell of yellow brick roads and ruby red slippers. I never had my Dorothy story.

It is hard to accept that in a mere three weeks Assumption College will no longer fit into the center of my world. Four years ago, I never anticipated making this place anything more than a college, never mind a home. Assumption College was stamped on my navy blue T-shirt that I reluctantly bought on a tour, not on my heart. Whether I admitted it or not, I was looking to become someone here, someone apart from a girl who didn't believe in herself although she firmly believed it was silly to dream beyond her own backyard.

My time here is not one illustrated by poison poppies and flying monkeys. Mine is one of digging, through the past, to the present and proceeding to the future. It is one of tears and unhappiness at times, filled by long stares in the mirror at a stranger holding broken dreams. It is one at times that I did not write myself. There were days when I passed the pen off, my hand too weak to write, my soul uninspired to engage in a search. There are entire paragraphs in my story that I know when I look back on them I won't pay attention to the words I wrote. I will only look to what has been written in the margins by others, scripted finely in a familiar ink called "friendship." These people came from everywhere, bringing with them lessons of knowledge, courage and heart. "They," "them," and "these" people are the reason that I have a story to tell.

They are the ones who saw to it that I was never alone when the world took advantage of me or when my faith was rattled.  They have been sprinkled so purposefully and precariously in my life that it is hard for me to classify them as just people. Just faces or characters alongside me in a story. That won't do. That won't do.

They are my guides. My center. My sanity. My carriers. My pushes. My pulls. My gratitude. My grace. My beginnings. My ends. My braided in-betweens. They are how I fill a conversation. They are who I yearn to tell others about. They are stars in a brilliant night sky, the kind of display that makes us catch our breath as we lie on our backs and try to take in the illuminated landscape. And just like the stars when they are out by the millions, these individuals have made me question my purpose in this life. They have made me wonder how someone so little as me could fit into this big, big world.

And I owe them the same big world for never leaving me to figure it out all on my own.

I make a decision, today and tomorrow, to carry these people in my heart no matter where I go; be it down the street to get a Pumpkin Spice coffee or on a metro, New York City bound. E.E. Cummings sends a message to these individuals better than I, "And this is the wonder that keeps the stars apart / i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)."

And I suppose that is all I ever needed to find here. I could boil it down to finding a major or a concentration, to finding a work study or a scholarship opportunity. I could say I came here to find a job upon graduation. But I know it isn't about these things. I came here and found the people who led me to my heart's desire.

But if that's it, if that's what I found then I can finally click my imaginary heels together three times and just go home. So long Assumption College, it was great to be around you for four years. If that is the true story then I am missing the ending. You know, Oz was wrong when he told the Tin Man that "hearts would never be made practical until they could be made unbreakable." Because I am sitting in front of this computer screen, broken-hearted, and though I hate to feel my own heart break over the gesture that is "goodbye" it seems pretty practical to me. In fact, perfect.

My heart did the hardest part for me, breaking into a hundred little pieces so that I could extend the pieces to the ones who played a part in stretching and filling that very same heart. To this place and to these people, I am forever indebted.

Because of them I finally have my Dorothy story.

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