To begin the story at the beginning, read "Part 1: Post 1: Beginning Again," published in January, 2013. To consult a description of the campus, read "Part 1: Post 14: The Greening of Campus," published in March, 2013.

Sunday, November 25, 2012


My last post was completely ridiculous. Obviously I was upset, and I wasn't prepared for it, so I gave vent to my upset in public. As a writer, such naked prose is embarrassing, but there is no reason for me to make an indiscretion worse by being equally confessional about my embarrassment. No, the reason I bring this up at all is that Charlie would not approve of my anger at cancer itself. He would ask what sets cancer apart from any other sometimes deadly illness. He would know that my anger is not so much with cancer but with death, and death, as he often said in one way or another, is necessary. If individuals did not die, the cycle of matter through ecosystems would stop. Life depends on the occasional ending of lives, and it was to life that Charlie always directed his loyalty--and mine. It is not that he did not grieve if he lost somebody--it was not that he did not want things for himself and his friends. It was that underneath that personal wanting was an awareness of something larger, and he did not confuse not getting what he wanted--however precious or valid the desire--with a violation of some law of the universe. Charlie would not be angry at cancer now. As his student--and, in a sense, his biographer--I am responsible for representing him accurately, and to you, who know nothing else of me, I represent him in my person. That's the job I signed up for. That's what I will continue to do.

I just realized this is the first major holiday where I cannot describe how we celebrated it at school. Thanksgiving, I mean. The reason is simple; we did not celebrate Thanksgiving on campus at all. We all went home, or, at least I always did, and I think everybody else did, too. Eventually I learned there was a tradition where if anybody didn't have a family to go to someone else would bring them home for the holiday. That first Thanksgiving I just went home to my parents for a few days. I'd been home a few times since starting home, but usually my big brother would be gone or something else would be going on. I think Thanksgiving was the first time since I'd moved out that we all spent several days together. It was nice.

But as was starting to happen more and more often, I felt slightly out of sync with the rest of my family. The reason, this time, was almost silly and certainly trivial; everyone else was excited about turkey, but I'd just had some a few weeks earlier before the end of the semester. We ate a lot of meat on campus towards the end of the year, just as we were largely vegetarian at the beginning of the year. In addition to the animals we raised ourselves, Charlie and some of his students hunted. I'm not sure how legal this was, since I don't recall any attention paid to hunting seasons or licenses--campus was always a world unto itself, and most people behaved as though it was outside of the jurisdiction of the mundane world outside. My first year or so, mostly the hunters were Rick and Charlie, and they brought in everything from woodchucks and squirrels to deer. Anything of any size they gave to the dining hall, but a single wild turkey was not a meal for everybody; campus usually needed three, for everyone to get some. So if Charlie killed just one turkey at a time, it was given instead to one of the dorms. You guessed a number between one and one hundred, and maybe got a turkey for Friday dorm dinner. My dorm had won right before Samhain. We roasted it and served it with roasted vegetables from the farm.

I suppose that turkey's flock-mates were angry about it.

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