Giving Thanks: Sara Says

It’s always really awkward because I’m totally the type of person to be like, “you shouldn’t love your significant other only on Valentine’s Day,” or “you shouldn’t care about the environment only on Earth Day,” or, more timely, “you shouldn’t be thankful for things only on Thanksgiving.”

Because I guess it’s probably true. We should be thankful every day, not just the day we obscenely indulge ourselves with turkey and mashed potatoes.

Nevertheless, I’m going to give thanks while I sit with my family around the dining room table, and I’m going to give thanks here.

And I’m going to try not to bore you with all of the I’m thankful for my family and my pets and my house and the fact that my dad pays the heating bill during the winter so my toes don’t fall off due to the cold clichés. Because what I’m thankful for this year (in contrast with last year’s thanks being given to the TV show Friends) is my college education.

So, maybe it’s kind of a cliché, but it’s the last time I get to use that cliché, so I’m going to give it all it’s got.

College is the best because I live in an apartment with my five best friends and because it’s socially acceptable to lie in my bed all day and watch Netflix and because I have this charmingly young adult ability to avoid responsibilities. But it’s also the best because, I go here, Assumption College, and the things I’ve gotten out of it I don’t think I could’ve ever ILLexpected.

Whenever I think about how grateful I am for the fact that I go to this school, I just think about the fact that I’ve been given the chance to write a senior honors thesis—even though it doesn’t feel like much of a blessing when I see on my to-do list that I have to force myself to write seven or eight pages that day, or when I have to deal with the fact that I literally have no place to store all of the Interlibrary Loans I have in my room.

But when the sheer mass of work I have to do on my project starts to pile up on me, I just ask myself: When is the next time I’m going to be able to dedicate an entire semester to studying the way Disney is a propaganda machine and represents the way we conduct foreign relations?

I can answer that question real quick: Never.

And then I just smile at the fact that I’m so unbelievably fortunate that my course load has made room for me to do this and that I have faculty who support me in this endeavor (shout out to Dr. Kisatsky for advising this thing) and that I’ve had the time and the means to flesh this project out into something so much more than proving that Disney movies perpetuate stereotypes.

And even if I weren’t writing my thesis, the simple fact that I just go to school here at Assumption is enough to be thankful for.

A little story: When I was a senior in high school, all of my friends were the absurd hipster geniuses that you all probably didn’t pay much attention to because all they spent their time doing was computer code and going to Passion Pit concerts. It wasn’t very easy to feel good about myself by the time college acceptance letters started to come out.

Don’t get me wrong, I know Assumption is a great school, I understand (all too well, actually) that a lot of upper echelon schools nowadays are just getting you to buy the name at the top of your degree. I get it.

But my best friend goes to Columbia University in New York City. Someone else goes to Duke University. My other friend goes to Tufts University. Another goes to Yale University.

ivy league

So it’s more than understandable that their acceptance letters made mine feel, well… Sub-flippin-par.

But now, four years later, I’m sitting in my room in five men, and guess what? I’m working on a really cool project for school. I’m writing a column as the Assistant Editor-in-Chief for my school’s newspaper. I’m planning my work around learning my dance team’s nationals routine this weekend. I smiled today, which is way more than I can say for Columbia or Duke or Yale.

And this all has everything to do with the fact that the kids at Assumption are good people and my professors actually guide me toward success instead of grading on an impossible asscocurve. My worry of getting a job over the person sitting next to me is non-existent. It has everything to do with the fact that Assumption is a pretty awesome place.

So there. That’s what I’m thankful for.

Assumption and all of its awesomeness.

To Say Thanks.

To Say Thanks
2011. That first year it was all desperation, us getting caught up in our foolish ways. It was a thanksgiving with not much to be thankful for and the first time you’d ever seen me angry. Silence, I’ve come to find, is tangible—it bends and it moves, it was stretching across mile markers on unlit roads until last night. And it’s awkward. Oh, it is awkward. Don’t worry. Things get louder tomorrow. There’s a boy in my car and we’re dodging the cops and Ringo Starr is singing about his Yellow Submarine. The sunrise is bleeding into the morning dew, and his fingers are bleeding, too. Maybe that’s just me spitting words that bite again. I’m yelling, fog pressing its way up the car’s windows the way he was pressed against her. And her. Oh yeah. And her. Our sweaty little hands are grasped tight: Grace. Don’t ask me to absolve your sins.
2012. I’ve been saving room in my belly for this holiday all week, but still, I don’t think I can eat the turkey this year. It’s just that I’m too full– full of sad, full of awkward, or just too full of him, really. Resentment plagues me, jealousy has me gagged, and everyone’s pity glues my feet to the floor. When he sits down I can’t get up. When he smiles I look down—that used to be mine. I am red, having found out about her on Facebook. It was humiliating and everyone’s eyes are settled on me, trying to spot the difference. Is her hair different? New earrings? No, guys. My heart just isn’t whole anymore. Silence is drowned with the fog in my ears and the way I ration my breath when he’s around. Here I am hands shaking, not talking so he can’t hear my voice crumbling; steady now. And bitter. Always so bitter, he says. When I drive him home he’ll roll down the window, let it all burn. He is the mundane and the small talk, the elegant formalities that seem so foreign when I’m with him; deep-boned laughter those days we first met. It was the first thing I noticed about you, your laugh; how like this sadness it made me feel full. He asks me about classes next semester and coughs (laughs). “Whole lotta art and history there?”
“Yeah, it’s casual, just my major.” Listen to me when I speak.
“Oh, that’s cute.”
2013. It’s over a month until Thanksgiving, but all the same feelings are here. The feelings where we fall the Hell apart. This year I’m not silent (awkward and nervous). My breath is heaving, hot red rage, syncopated and staying in time with yours. Don’t touch me. I just don’t think I’ve ever been this angry with you. And I never thought I’d be so stupid. Did you tell her? Did you tell her about that night before you left me? Our hearts were beating so hard and you tried to kiss me and I put my hand against your chest to push you away. Does she know about that? And does she know how tight you held me? How your arms melted into mine and you counted all of my ribs just to know that I was real, to know that I was real and sparking to life in your arms? My mouth was so dry when I looped back round your house. Get out of my car. No. Here’s the part where you wanted to talk, regrets and your biggest what if, they shine like the stars through the windows. “You’re in a car with a beautiful boy… And you feel like you’ve done something terrible, like robbed a liquor store, or swallowed pills, or shoveled yourself a grave in the dirt, and you’re tired.” Richard Siken said that, and amen. Wasn’t this the greatest love story we were writing? But no. Its horror and I should’ve known to never open that door to us again.
I’m thankful for liars and for leavers because now we’re self-sufficient. I’m thankful for boys in my car, because they teach us how to drive away as fast as we can. I’m thankful for the miles, because now I don’t have to see his face for another month. And I’m thankful for that infinitesimal moment of complete clarity, because now I know that I’m way too awesome to be lied to again.

Published 2014 Thoreau’s Rooster