I am incredibly lucky and #privileged to be #literate. To be #educated. To have books in my life as a given and not something I need to struggle for. I am aware of this. I am even more aware of how incredible lucky I was to go to Sarah Lawrence College and, during my time there, spend a year abroad at the University of Oxford.
I say this with a sincerity I cannot convey through words because words simply aren't able to convey the exact feelings that reading and studying books gives me: the blooming in my chest, the vibrant tingle in my arms, the whizzing of neurons in my brain. These aren't sufficient.
It wasn't until going to college that I finally learned that there were people who wanted interpretations. That there was a place for me and my ideas. That, in fact, having #opinions is one of the prime things Sarah Lawrence College promotes. My first literature classes there were heaven. I wrote papers in which I loudly and stridently proclaimed what I thought and why I thought it. I quoted and explained, read and deduced, concluded and decided. I got good evaluations and teachers telling me I was smart, insightful, and a good writer to boot.
Then, of course, I went to Oxford, where nobody gave a rat's ass about my opinions.
That is, not unless I substantiated them and based them on the opinions of others who came before me, people smarter, wiser, more well-read, more well-written. I learned how to research in the various libraries that are scattered around Oxford like candy. I buried myself in stacks of books as high as my head at various desks, and pored over indexes, trying to find references to the books I was assigned each week. Never had so much been demanded of me, and never had I wanted to please so much. The one time I earned an 80 (the highest grade my tutor gave on papers, except for one student who had once gotten a 100, and to this day I wonder how) was when I wrote about The Sound and the Fury, and I exited that tutorial during which he read and graded the paper with a halo of jubilation around my head that was probably so prominent that it probably bumped the walls of the narrow staircase as I bound down them towards the bleak and rainy winter day.