This evening, I almost took a risk. One of my greatest apprehensions about living “on my own” for two months in NYC is that I will be challenged to cook my own dinner (or, to up the ante, dinner for another unfortunate soul’s consumption) and will indubitably burn NYU to the ground. At 10 p.m. on a weeknight, I found myself in an unlikely situation—my mom left for work later than usual, my brother went to sleep earlier than usual, and neither of them had cooked anything today. Thoughts plopped into my head one by one as I considered each and put it aside: I could microwave some vegetables, but I earned my health points already by walking around some; I could make another grilled cheese (my first culinary success), but what are the chances that I’ll keep the kitchen safe yet again?; I could order something, but that’s really setting the bar low. I grabbed my familiar cereal box and ate in bed, slightly disappointed by my risk aversion but far more satisfied that the dinner I “made” myself contained antioxidant vitamins C, E, and beta-carotene.
And just like that, you have read approximately 200 words that might not say much about Me. Capital-M Me, a double-major in English and Women’s Studies, is incredibly thrilled to embark on an Urban Adventure, educating members of the judicial system about gender bias with Legal Momentum, incorporating theory and peer discussion into my already hectic mass of feminist viewpoints, and achieving Personal Growth in the process. These three components of my Urban Adventure are what I have told my friends and family that I am doing this summer, and in my own reflection, these three points serve to pin down my otherwise divergent thoughts and expectations. Do educatory approaches to gender issues defy or employ patriarchal tools in Audre Lorde’s sense? Am I the only introvert in New York City? Do they sell Smart Start at Trader Joe’s? I consider some of these concerns with more gravity than others, but the common thread between these divergent thoughts is the uncertainty that derives from an unexpected outcome.
You were probably expecting to get to The Point by now, but I present you with yet another diversion. (Me would not be happy about this.) In high school, the only poetry that crossed my field of vision was on an AP English Literature practice test. For some odd reason, my twelfth-grade English teacher singled me out as a good writer and asked me to write a poem for the upcoming Youth Empowerment Summit, an event my school district hoped would portray some sense of “what troubles the youth these days” to an audience of parents, teachers, students, and county officials. She gave me a packet of handouts that tried to answer that question, and I decided that I would write a poem about relationship violence, feeling slightly overwhelmed because only by reading fiction and familiarizing myself with others’ lived experiences could I grasp what the issue really was. My favorite stanza of the poem is below, and it captures the open-mindedness and willingness to take risks that I hope will characterize my time in NYC:
I needed a new face, with wider eyes to recognize,
Round, glee with space
For a nose of heightened sense and lips spread across both cheeks–
Oh, how they hold back.
Let the borrowers become creators,
The consumption aesthetic become novel innovation,
The thoughts become speech.
I couldn’t be more grateful that poetry has stumbled into my life (or rather, that I stumbled into it) because it has offered me countless opportunities to turn calculated risks into bona fide works of art. I love my bowls of cereal, but relish the moments and ideas that surprise me and allow me to grow. Every women’s studies class, domestic violence hotline training, or other educational foray into the world of gender has altered my feminist worldview and provided me with a different lens through which I converse, write, read, and interact with others. Diversions from the foreseen, the tried-and-true, and the expected confront me with learning moments that I hope will fill my Moxie experience from start to finish.