I went to undergraduate school in Washington, DC at American University. Because of family circumstances, I transferred and graduated from the University of Miami. I had an academic scholarship to AU and transferred out of there after the end of the fall semester 12 credits shy of my bachelor’s degree in biology. The University of Miami required more than half of my degree related credits had to be from their institution so I spent the next three semesters taking additional science classes. I graduated with a BS in Biology and only three credits shy of a dual degree in chemistry and also minors in psychology and women’s studies. I was a career student and loved school. I fit in a classroom. What I learned at American was that I came from a very different world. I was blonde, blue eyed, gentile, MIDDLE CLASS, Southern and not looking for a husband. I didn’t have a passport, trust fund, nanny, butler, chauffeur, credit card, or a summer home in Vail. I went to school with kids who flew “home” to Britain for the long weekends on the Concord. Their parents were middle eastern emirates, ambassadors, federal judges, corporate magnates or the upper echelon of inherited old money. The social shock of learning the true meaning of affluence and wealth was the hardest part of going away to school. It was a big part of why I transferred away. “You can’t keep up with these people, Lisa. You don’t fit with them. We can’t afford it.”
I learned so much living in DC. I worked at a glorious, independent gourmet grocery store called Sutton Place Gourmet. I had a Jewish boyfriend and learned Yiddish and all about punims and Passover and knish and rugelach and Grandmothers who want their grandsons to marry Jewish girls and not blonde, blue eyed girls willing to convert. I learned what it means to sit Shiva and to be the cause of it. I learned about safe deposit boxes and bank vaults and “good silver” that needs bank vaults. I learned about live in nannies than speak no English and have families of their own in the city who they only get to see on Sundays. I learned that families send limos and chauffeurs from New Jersey to pick up their kids in DC. I was naive; I was not a country girl. My parents had escaped the South, moved up in the world. But, that world was still far, far away from the world of the truly rich and affluent.
But now I am older than my parents were when they sent me off to school in DC. I think I make more money now than my father made then, and the tuition was high. In two years, Cameron will go to college and I pray he stays in the Florida university system for which I have a pre-paid plan. If he wants to go to Loyola or Georgetown or Stanford……it will be tough. But…..I will encourage him to experience the world, open himself to all the possibilities and not limit himself to what he knows or who I am or where we come from. I will encourage him to seek his own path and count myself blessed to learn about new things along side him. I want him to believe he fits where ever HE is and where ever he places himself. And it is not about social standing, status or wealth. I want him to know himself and be assured that he is who he is and where he is…is where he is meant to be. He picks. And that goes for his younger brother, too. I pray I do not foist upon either of them my own personal boundaries and maybe their fearless entre into the world will remind me of when I was once fearless and thought I could fit ANYWHERE if I tried hard enough and applied myself.