The Last Page

The Last Page

By Vassar Quarterly

Through the Looking Glass

When I was a student at Vassar, I recall seeing elderly alumnae on campus, and thinking how quaint or sentimental they were. I’m not quite as old as the women I’m remembering, but not that far behind. As I wandered around looking for photo ops, I felt a profound sense of familiarity — and at least vaguely bewildered as to how so much time had passed. How clearly I remember being among smart, lively, diverse, friendly, shy, earnest, cynical, brash, hip, naïve, socially conscious, sexy, creative, questing peers. Then and now; a mere three and a half decades!

The point is, my time at Vassar was formative. It simply became an enduring and durable part of my identity, although I may not have understood so in the moment. Being back, I was impressed anew by the beauty of the campus, and how privileged college life is: a sanctuary, really, however temporary. I was also far more aware of how hard the adults behind the curtains were working to make that life possible. It was a delight to be with fellow alums who were all experiencing their own time warps, and reveries, while leaping into our task. Collectively, we represented six decades! It made for easy camaraderie, and a giddy bonding experience. I was heartened by an atmosphere of kindness extended by all — students, faculty, and staff alike — to all, even my dog Maddie, who came along. It’s an intrinsic part of adult development — read “middle age” — to reflect on the past in the face of “intimations of mortality,” to misquote Wordsworth. But, beyond sentimentality, or nostalgia, the meditation can be an authentic appreciation, and gratitude for the good fortune in one’s life. I’m thinking of Robert Lowell’s lines, “Bright sun of my bright day…a way of writing I once thought heartless.” Perhaps that’s what wisdom is. It seems I’m morphing into one of the quaint old women I’d been amused by. I want to tap each fresh-faced student on the shoulder and whisper, “It goes fast.”

—Lauri Robertson '75, M.D., Ph.D. is a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst as well as a fineart landscape photographer. A member of the Yale School of Medicine clinical faculty for many years and she now lives on Nantucket.

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