Archive for November, 2011

Harvard 5 Year Class Report

November 10, 2011 Leave a comment

Had to submit a five year reunion class report to Harvard… thought it was too comprehensive not to share… so the blog is back!

I’ve always used the excuse of being a native New Yorker to explain my impatience, my constant rushing, my complete and utter exasperation with the slow walkers in Harvard Square and everywhere else.

My impatience with the supposed pace of the post-college life has realized itself in the most predictable way. Feeling out of step with my peers, I am essentially where my mother was at age 35: married, living the suburban high life (in Cleveland no less – this New Yorker never saw that coming!), working full-time at a non-profit that is changing the world, with two adorable children – the perfect pair, one girl and one boy. But I’m just past 26 years old and two decades after my mother found her life zen, it looks like what was her 35 is today’s 45 — which puts me about 20 years ahead of everyone reading this entry. It’s enough to make one tired of rushing.

But the exhilaration of being a young wife, mother and professional serves as a fitting counter. Each morning (weekdays at least) I make my way to midtown Cleveland where I direct the institutional giving efforts for a charter school management organization with six schools that provide high-quality education to underserved city kids. To my continuing surprise, I have become what my family has always referred to as a “shnorrer” – in English, a fundraiser. True to my experiences, I always loved understanding and crafting a message. At Harvard, it was through the Dems and public policy. At my first job as a fundraising consultant, I realized I could create a message that, unlike with legislation, would provide an immediate return – money! I’ve spent the entire time since graduation working my way up in the non-profit development world realizing that passion and feeling the rush of convincing others of the rightness of a cause I have made my own. And even though it’s nonprofit, the salary isn’t too bad – thank you Harvard degree and my parents for paying for it.

But before I leave for work each morning, instead of my alarm most days, I wake up to the singsong call of my beautiful, brilliant 2.5 year old daughter, Devorah, “Mommy, Mommy – I have to maaaaaaaake.” The elation I have when hearing this is not because I am connecting with the inner fulfillment of being a mother and certainly not because I’m waking from a glorious, uninterrupted slumber, but because we just finished potty training her and I’m so utterly relieved that I don’t have to change her diaper every morning. (With parenting, it’s the little things.) Devorah loves to pretend she’s 22 and constantly says things that awe and amaze her doting parents.

Devorah’s shouts usually prompt loud and demanding cries from the other bedroom, where Eli, the most adorable, absolutely chubbiest one year old in the world has decided he’s not happy that his sister woke him up. He loves his warm bottle in the morning and I love snuggling with him in the glider and mushing his cheeks and kissing him to pieces. Eli is really trying to make this walking thing become a reality and right now, he’s happy to point to his nose and occasionally play peek-a-boo with anyone in the near vicinity.

Oh, and before all of this, I wake up (briefly) at 5:45 a.m. when my husband Eric’s alarm goes off. Why 5:45 a.m. you ask?

You see, somewhere between New York, Harvard and Cleveland, I decided that my inherent love for rituals was most honestly expressed in a return to my roots and observant Judaism. (Now being the least desired Director position – Director of Rituals – in Delta Gamma Zeta Phi makes so much sense!) The urge grew stronger to make a serious commitment to the shift in lifestyle and observance in the last year at Harvard… and as a result I didn’t take as many relationships and friendships with me after graduation – something I regret terribly. But the positive was I found my path, and consequently my husband who made the same decisions during his last year of college.

After my graduation, actually almost 5 months to the day, I was set up on a blind date with Eric, then living in Cleveland, who was coming into New York for the wedding of his Rabbinical school dean’s daughter. (Following me so far?) We hit it off right away – notwithstanding the fact that I was terribly sick with a stomach virus the whole first weekend that we dated. And shocker of all shockers, got engaged exactly one month later on Hanukkah. Our beautiful wedding ceremony was held five months after that at a hall on a Long Island beach. We skipped the honeymoon for the Jewish tradition of “sheva brachos” – translated Seven Blessings – where friends and family made festive dinners for the whole week following the wedding. In retrospect, we should have taken the honeymoon when we had the chance because Devorah was born nine months later and now we won’t be able to honeymoon for another 10 years!

Well that explains how I got to Cleveland, but why am I waking up at 5:45am? Because Eric wakes up early to learn Torah with his study partner each day, then participates in morning prayers and then comes home for breakfast, all before leaving for his job as an educational aide to a child on the autism spectrum and then jetting off to grad school where he’s working on his masters in special education.

And that’s just my morning… the rushing continues at night with dinner, baths, bedtime, chores, keeping a house – which we bought for a steal, hooray for living in an undesirable city during a housing bust! The list goes on and on.
Somewhat regrettably, the freedom I might have envisioned at one point is an independence I don’t have. They don’t call children dependents for nothing. But there is that sense of knowing that I’m fortunate. That in a world where people are searching and needing and scraping by, I’m good. I have everything I could possibly want and it came easy (and all in just five years!). Gratitude is not easy to recognize in a rush, but it’s still something I have. You might just say I picked it up when I decided to become a Midwesterner… And now… I feel like rushing won’t get me anywhere that I’m not already…

Categories: Me