The dream I dared not dream: One senior’s farewell to Sewanee

by Jayne Bibb

My journey has been challenging and wonderful as Theseus’ remark, “hot ice” near the end of A Midsummer Night’s Dream (AMND 5.1.59). After taking a thirty-six year leave of absence, I have been blessed with the incredible opportunity of returning to college to finish my undergraduate career that once had been pushed aside by life. Having left Sewanee in “good standing,” my intention always had been to earn my degree, but I did not think I would be able to at my beloved alma mater. With the green light from the re-admittance committee, the moral and prayer support of our four grown children, three young grandchildren, my family, and my incredibly generous, best friend, and husband Julian, I re-enrolled as a full time student in the 2010 Advent semester. Barely computer literate and having just switched from a PC to a Mac thirty days before classes were to begin, I faced a lot of “new” in my old college.

EVERYTHING seemed new… Blackboard, Nicenet, Power Point (instead of paper posters)… anthropological field notes… writing an analysis of a work of art… journal entries that were GRADED… navigating banner web… numerous visits to the writing center (I couldn’t remember how to write a paper)… working on “group projects”… learning to cite quotations correctly, and, that “quote is a verb” and “quotation is a noun”… hero journey, individuation, the Cult of True Womanhood… reading Shakespeare’s plays thoroughly three times before discussing them in class… memorizing 100+ works of art… MLA… (and please tell me what happened to footnoting and bibliographies ???? )… Walking the Land and pondering the rocks and rills of this mountain…. Warren Point sandstone and Sewanee conglomerate… Piney Point… Depot Branch…. yellow poplars, “they are tall and straight and bare a beautiful golden leaf”… “if you look closely enough you can see the imprint of those who lived here before”… reading poetry with fellow trampers… learning to listen and see quiet solitude in my wooded “secret places”… finding again that Sewanee students are kind hearted and good and very smart… Ely… learning to play Shakespeare and discovering acting… riding up and down a Nashville elevator for my gender bust… getting gowned by my husband… dressing in Victorian costume to rummage through Edna Pontillier’s wardrobe (my first Power Point)… traveling to Tennessee Williams’ birthplace and Night of the Iguana… STELLAAAA!… shooting stars and harvest moons on Sewanee starlit nights… Eve’s crooked rib… reading more books in three years than I have read in my life (well, close)… traveling to Nashville for Shabbat… finally learning classical mythology… “you can never escape your past “…collaborative presentations… tutoring grammar school students – the highlight of my week… Anthony Hecht, Robert Lowell, and Wallace Stevens on the bluff… students performing Shakespeare in sacred places on the domain… “do the right thing because it is the right thing to do”… rising in the dark to hear the song of first light… learning “pitee renneth soone in gentil herte” (“KT” 1761) — watching the most talented in Perpetual Motion and departmental honors concerts in voice and instrumentals and Sewanee scholars’ papers and posters and young actors delivering difficult Shakespearian text flawlessly in perfect timing — worshiping in All Saint’s where we married… taking final exams with students younger than my youngest child… getting up every morning and putting one foot in front of the other to show up ready to receive the treasured lessons professors passionately prepared to impart to us… taking classes from the same professor I had in 1973 who looks the same (!)… and, Oh, did I say, “I COMPED!”

I have been graciously received by EVERYONE– students, faculty, and staff — for welcoming me into your classes and offices encouraging, guiding, and teaching me in this journey, I am overflowing with thanksgiving. To my 2013 classmates, God bless you and keep you forever. And to my four Sewanee angels (you know who you are) thank you for coming back to the Mountain to celebrate this dream with my family and me!

– Jayne Bibb Class of 1976 and 2013 – YSR! TGBTG!