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, February 19, 2017

Mastery Year 1: Part 1: Post 4: Frustrations

It’s been three weeks since June and I arrived, and frankly I’m getting tired of not being able to live with her. I understand—and agree with—the reasons, but that doesn’t mean I like the result. She likes it even less, and I have to make it stick for her sake as a student when she doesn’t understand the why of what we’re doing. I can’t explain what letting yourself really absorb this place does, or why that’s important. I could try, it’s not a secret, it’s just that she doesn’t understand.

It’s not that we don’t get any time together. I secretly avoid her when we don’t have plans to meet, I ration myself for her, which hurts more than I could have expected, but she’s doing this for me, so I must do it for her. But we have plans to meet often. Breakfast together twice a week, dinner once a week, and a sleepover once or twice a week (at her place, not mine, so I don’t become an excuse for her not to connect with her dorm). I mean, that’s a lot more time that Ollie and Willa are getting—she’s not living on campus, so they just spend weekends together occasionally. It’s not even the physical aspect of not getting any real privacy together. It’s feeling like I’m being treated like a child.

This woman is it for me, and to have that not recognized in my daily life, as though this were some stupid fling, some puppy-love that nobody else thinks is important…it’s an illusion, I know. The people here take this relationship very seriously. They are working hard to help us make this whole situation work for us because they agree with June; that I cannot wear the Green Ring and a wedding ring if those two commitments aren’t congruent somehow. June needs to be part of this community. 

The Six have…committed themselves to supporting my marriage. It’s like…remember the cup? When I first got here, one of the first things that happened after the Brigid ceremony was they gave me my own little tin cup. All the new students got one, so we could wear our cups on our belts or carry them in our book-bags and get drinks of water or whatever else whenever we liked. There are no water-fountains here, and of course no bottled water. But they gave us cups, each with our own name on it, on the bottom. I was really blown away by that—that strangers, who, two days earlier hadn’t known I exist, would give me something of my own like that. I suppose it was a little thing, and of course lots of places give away mugs for one reason or another, but I guess it just struck me as symbolic of something. And it was symbolic of this.

And I feel incredibly grateful for their support and consideration right up until the moment when I show up for breakfast in the morning and remember I’m not allowed to eat with my own fiancé.
But it’s the physical aspect we actually complain about together. Maybe that part’s easier to talk about. Maybe it’s easier for June not to blame that part on me.

So what if people hear us,” I keep saying. “Nobody around here cares!”
“I care.”
“But nobody else does. People have sex here all the time!
“I know. I can hear them. And if I can hear them, they can hear me. Do you know how not sexy it is to be worrying about that?”
“Yes. You think I don’t notice when you’re not feeling sexy?”
“We should go outside or something. When the snow melts. Or bring your hammock!”
“Bad idea,” I told her. “The woods have eyes.”
“So? I don’t care if animals and trees see us having sex.”
“What about Charlie?”
“I don’t care if they watch him have sex, either.”
“But Charlie doesn’t”—and I stopped myself. Charlie’s celibacy was both hard to explain and irrelevant. “But Charlie is the eyes and ears of the forest. He watches people. From trees. That’s how he knows everything.”
“He—what is he, sick?”
“No, he’s a naturalist. Naturalists watch living things. He just doesn’t think students are different than any other wildlife. And I agree with him. It’s not like he wants to see anything private.”
“Then you’re sick, too,” she said, but she was joking this time. “Maybe we can….”

But no matter how many ideas we came up with, true privacy seems beyond us.

June has now gone through the testing and defense process that students who want advance standing can go through. I when I did it, back as a yearling, I got none at all. I got out of some of the mastery areas, but I remained a “full-course yearling” anyway, meaning someone expected to spend all four years here. June, in contrast, thinks she aced the process and will be a one-hit-wonder. Of course, I was a 19-year-old who’d just flunked out of my first semester of college, she’d a master’s-educated professional with a couple of years of experience.

On a similar note, today they held interviews for campus jobs, but June didn’t need to interview. She’s already arranged to run the summer camp. Usually it’s done by a couple of ally volunteers and by the masters working together, but that system is unwieldy and June is more qualified at this than any of them. I mean, her degree is in environmental education, and she’s spent the last few summers running environmental ed programs for summer camps. This time she’ll be responsible for the administrative stuff, too, which is new, but she can handle it. The volunteers will work with her for program continuity, but for the first time, the camp will have a single, full-time person in charge, not a part-time committee.

All in all, frustrations aside, I am really proud of her and I’m really proud to be with her. I still can’t really believe she’s picking me.

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