A couple Christmases ago I found a stack of old college notebooks, somehow unearthed by my had-enough-of-the-clutter mother and placed in my brother’s room. I am a save everything kind of girl, but it was still jarring to find the notebook from my senior year literature seminar. Nearing the end of the road to completing my bachelor’s degree in honors literature, I was required to take 400 level seminar coursework meant only for seniors about to receive their degree. I still remember the joy I felt when I realized my favorite professor would be teaching the course, and I can still picture myself in the seat near the corner planted squarely next to my best literature major friend, Luke.
What I didn’t remember was the paper that I wrote, the paper stuck inside the notebook, the paper suddenly in my hands once again more than ten years after being abandoned in my parent’s home. I don’t remember what piece of literature I had been asked to deconstruct or what literary theorists I was comparing in that piece, but I do remember my favorite professor’s red pen observing, “I don’t understand why you’re a literature major. You seem to hate writing this.”
The truth is that I did hating writing that paper and many others that year, many others all four years of my college education. I love literature, but I hated the deconstruction of it. I was once paid a kid in my class every time he raised his hand and suggested that an inanimate object in a poem was supposed to represent a penis. He got extra money if the professor agreed with his ludicrous suggestion, which she almost always did. At times the discussions became almost comical, the enjoyment of the literary work lost completely as we battled back and forth about the various theorists who had studied and analyzed the work. It nearly killed my love of the written word, and it certainly didn’t do much to support my love of higher education.
As I write this I am slightly hopped up on fountain Cokes and a really great tiramisu that was expertly laced with espresso, a caffeine one two punch that has me buzzing. But I’m also energized from the conversation on the way to the restaurant, at the restaurant, and on the way from the restaurant. I sat at a table full of highly educated and intelligent people – because the two are not mutually exclusive nor is their pairing a given – no less than two PhD’s among us and myself holding a master’s from a fine Ivy League establishment. Did we spend the evening discussing our favorite period of literary history? Did we debate the various philosophical schools and choose sides with carefully crafted points to sway the opposition?
No. We talked about bee stings and breast-feeding and Facebook and rats and nannies and backyards in the south and why Honey Boo Boo may be the most entertaining thing on television. Ever.
That twenty-one year old Amy who sat in those senior seminars, bored to tears ripping beautiful works of literature to shreds, somehow knew that her time could be better spent in the company of people discussing and enjoying and living life. It is moments like tonight that make life so glorious. Now that’s worth writing about.