(Staff member Mark McCaig offered the following at the November 23rd open mike commemorating Fairhaven School’s first fifteen years.)
So I looked up fifteen year anniversary gifts, and it’s apparently crystal and I thought crystal watches, so time, how do we mark time? People say wow, fifteen years of the school and I think sometimes it seems like a hundred and others it seems like none, still I cannot describe what happens here, not completely, so I fixate on little things, like words, even a minor word like “or”: in favor or opposed? Basketball or Apples to Apples? Lunch or knitting? Improv or iPhone? Pokemon or Smash Brothers? Poop smoothie or the name game? Thesis or return? And maybe this is it, this freedom to choose, maybe this is the epicenter of Fairhaven, like the student who’s chosen to chart sunspots or the one whose red shoelace I broke when tying his hightops on the basketball court who chose to come to the creative writing workshop and hung around after, dictating his first poem to me, titled The Galaxy In Front Of Ours, who pointed at his head saying the factory of ideas in here are trying to get out. Choices: skateboarder or ballerina? Fair trade chocolate or Hershey’s? American elm or black haw? Deejay or bank teller? Andrew or Joe? Mastodons or cougars? Now or later? Fifteen years, so now we know the answer can also be “and,” as in now and later, as in this room works for weddings and funerals, as in both, still the possibility for “or” even creates the “ands,” and that first year we wrangled about consensus, finally raising our hands in favor or opposed and “or” held the day, and downstairs you can read the record of that vote alongside ten thousand other votes, as many as the leaves falling from our patient trees, votes that manifest all of these “ors,” and glory be I wish it were that simple, that I could dust my hands and be done, but here we never are, and new students always arrive, so there’s this new girl who says becomes instead of because, who plays hide and seek with the big boys and who sits on everybody’s laps, her luminosity the latest reminder that every student charges the school, each person brightens these rooms, even with their struggles, and then I realize the other word might be “this”: this student, this meeting, this game, this choice, this celebration, this life. Maybe then all of the “ors,” all of the existential “ands,” they orbit this righteous “this,” and it is all about time, because (or becomes) this present moment is what we have, is all we have, and here in these woods we continue, moment to clear moment, and don’t you see, it is crystalline, this precious becoming exactly who we are.