Wait! Make sure you have read part 1
Imagine a 200-person auditorium with a stage that has a table in the middle. This table has got three chairs, three microphones, and three name cards. The panelist to my right was a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Toronto. She is a medical sociologist and has more data on LGBT topics than any person I’ve ever met. I enjoyed a cab ride from the airport to the school then lunch in downtown Andover with her. Elise, my panel colleague, was the first person on this trip that I bonded with. We plan to stay in touch and hopefully will be able to guest write for the blog some time. Elise, if you read this, thank you for some great conversation.
To my right on the stage was a New York Times writer and author. Unfortunately I didn’t meet him until the dinner preceding the presentation. Despite not speaking with him for as long as I did Elise, I enjoyed conversation with Benoit just as much. Benoit, if you read this, thank you for that question during the panel and for giving me some stability during the panel. I don’t know if you saw, but your and Elise’s calmness helped me out quite a bit.
Next we panelists asked each other questions and answered audience questions. I felt such pride in answering questions and seeing the attentive faces of over one hundred people in the auditorium. The panel was my first time speaking publicly. I don’t want to brag, but I think I killed it.
Phillip’s Academy is by far the most hospitable school I have ever been to. When I first arrived at the Andover Inn, Mr. Tipton and Gabbi greeted me warmly and introduced the itinerary for the night. During the pre-presentation dinner, I met two GSA leaders and other faculty who helped Gabbi through the program. At the presentation, even more people introduced themselves. I felt like a celebrity because everyone wanted to meet me and hear what I had to say. After the panel, my friend Tobi introduced me to his friends and roommates. I was afraid that people who didn’t know why I was here and didn’t know me well might blow me off; that tends to be the situation in Atlanta and in public school. However, every single person Tobi introduced me to shook my hand and greeted me. I went to sleep that night feeling like a damn king, despite sleeping on a couch that felt like an uneven cobblestone road.
You might think the panel was the highlight of me weekend because it was the reason I was flown up. However… yeah, there’s more. On Saturday I woke up with plenty ahead of me. In the early afternoon, I walked over to Commons with some of Tobi’s roommates (my temporary roommates) and ate breakfast. Normally eating breakfast with people you don’t know is sort of awkward. Again, PA’s students proved me wrong. After breakfast, we met up with some more kids and hopped on a train into downtown Boston. We walked up through the subway exit in the heart of Boston and were greeted by protest signs, flags, and tents. We had come here for, and found, Occupy Boston.
We walked through the crowd for a while, but eventually had to sneak away for some food. Downtown Boston is an amazing place to walk through, but it is even more immaculate when you stumble upon a movie set on your way to get food. Apparently we passed by a Ryan Reynolds action movie. Badass, right? After eating, we returned to Occupy Boston, where I had an enthralling conversation with a random woman about college tuition. Afterwards, we headed back to school. And no, it doesn’t end there.
At 8:00 or so, we all headed to the Den, a hangout for students, for the regional GSA dance. I never knew people participated in GSA, as my school’s GSA is unfortunately not very popular. But this room was packed with ever sort of kid, including a professional DJ from Italy. Needless to say, it was a bangin’ fuckin’ party. I swear everything I was wearing was soaked in sweat- totally worth it.
Finally, after a good three two and a half hours of dancing, fist pumping, and moshing, everyone headed back to the dorms, I showered, and we settled down. Once everyone in the dorm had gotten together, we, all but one kid, snuck downstairs. We called the kid down and jumped out when he arrived. Ben, the aforementioned kid, had just turned 18, so we celebrated.
Now, after cake and game of pool, I am sitting on Tobi’s couch just trying to soak everything in. This truly has been one of the best weekends of my life.
P.S. To everyone I met: Elise, Benoit, Frank, Gabbi, Ryan, all of Tobi’s friends, and every other person I met, thank you for a great weekend. Now all I want to do is figure out how to visit again (Frank, I was told Feb 5 is an interesting date…)