Des Moines Oral History Project

Interviewee: Melanie Patton-Imani

Interviewer: Angela Jacksack

November 14, 2017

 

Angela: So if you’d just like to state your name

Imani: My name is Melanie Patton-Imani.

A: And it is the fourteenth? The fourteenth today of November.And we’re just here to do our first interview. Alright, so, if you’d like to just tell me about yourself?

I: Well, Ang, you have come into my life at a very interesting time. It’s a time that I’ve, uh, been discovering my ancestral roots. And they’ve shed a new light on my past as well as my present.

[the tea that we ordered arrives and we thank the server]

A: Alright. So you’re reconnecting with your ancestral-

I: Roots. And kind of reframing my experience as an other through that lens, even y’know, we talked about being one of the first families in Minnesota and how the city grew up around me and being perceived as being different, even within the communities of color which I identified with, that was the African American community, and a lot of that community emmigrated North from the south so my father actually his people were from mississippi and they ended up going North through Chicago and, uh, and my mother met him in Chicago and the rest is history. But, uh, so I did not take the traditional slave route. My family of origin was native and as such I have a very unique kind of outsider perspective and history of activism. So. I remember when my Walgreens drug counter – do we even still, did you have a Walgreens as a kid?

A: Yeah, yeah

I: So, back in the 60’s of course, that was where the kids down south during the civil rights movement would stage their sit ins, and I remember as a child my grandmother saying “ah” taking me to the lunch counter at Walgreens in Woolworths at about that same time. I don’t remember any hostility, we were as I said, very much engrained in the community, but later on of course I realized that she was politically active and, uh, I was introduced to political activism at that tender age over turkey and potatoes with gravy [laughs] at Walgreens counter.

A: So I know you said that your grandma raised you

I: I was raised by my mother and my grandmother. My grandmother- five generations of Minnesotans – she was one of the first African Americans, though, if you were to see her she was very fair skinned, so, very, very pale skinned. I look at her now and I see Native American although that time I was not cognisant of ethnicity or features or anything like that. But if you were to look at her you’d see kind of large ears, which I look at as being native, okay. And a very native nose, almost white skin, very wavy hair, but she was a professional woman like high professional, she had her master’s degree, and as was the case in her time there were two professions where you could do that and that was as a librarian, a teacher, and sometimes a doctor but less so. Less frequently as a doctor. So, like a lot of women of her generation, she was a career woman who did not have a man in the house. In this case I speak specifically of black career women. So – I wish I could remember the name of this documentary. It was called the Sisters [inaudible] but it detailed the reality of professional black women of a certain class and the lack of men and family and how it was kind of an either/or proposition. Now, my grandmother did have a daughter. She, as a young woman took care of her mother and her daughter as she put herself through school. And now we have a girls’ charter school named after her, the Laura Jeffrey Academy is kind of kitty-corner across the street from Macalester College where she graduated. So that was a huge [inaudible] that my friends did, they started it and named it after her. So I was raised actively and cognizantly. She was a huge reader, as I was, as she had to be, and she taught me to question everything. I think there my mother and my grandmother’s example brought or trumped any literature and that was kind of autonomous, independent women working and navigating a white, male, supremist world. And I did not see my family represented anywhere in the media at all so that further kind of distinguished my identity as an other.

A: Yeah. So, I’d like to talk a little bit about what it was like coming as an LGBTQ youth.

I: So, in Minnesota – I consider Minnesota the arts mecca of the midwest – so as a child I grew up with theater tickets, there was a lot of art, my mother was an artist – she was a sculptor, she was a painter, she was a writer, she was a poet, so I was always surrounded by beauty, museums, concerts, and so there was always a lot of creative energy and with that creative energy – though I did not identity it as such at the time – there was a lot of queerness, okay? The first time I really remember kind of, seeing and identifying queerness was, I think, in junior high when I went to the performing arts learning center and, do you remember the show Fame?

A: Yeah

I: Okay, so that was my experience in Junior high as well as high school. It started when I was twelve, so half the day was spent in this very creative atmosphere where imagination led you wherever you wanted to go and that was when I first started seeing gay people in the form of my acting teacher, and also some of the dancers as well. So, I don’t know that I consciously came out but I have always aligned myself with the creative and so. And I guess if you want a hard core coming out story I started going to the clubs – okay. Two performing arts learning center as I went to highschool and I started to hang out with gay people. That’s what. Okay. So I did have gay, gay male friends that I meant through the learning center, okay? And then we started- there was also a lesbian teacher who wanted to, I guess, bring me out. [pauses] Yeah, she did! And I wonder now, okay. I wonder if I came out to her or if it’s just I was hanging with gay folks and riding a motorcycle, yeah I rode a motorcycle, cause I was driving to school. [laughs] Okay. But anyway there was a soda bar for underage kids at the time called Coffee House and so she took me to coffee house and I think that was my first experience at an all, kind of, lesbian dive. It was a lesbian dive at that time. I did not come out to my parents until a little later and that happened I think I was maybe seventeen and I was at gay pride. Now, I had talked to my folks, my folks knew I had gay friends but I did not come out and it wasn’t until I was on a newscast on this particular gay pride march that I said, “look, I’m on TV, I am a lesbian” or whatever it was. I think I identified as lesbian at that time. No, maybe it was bisexual. Probably bisexual at the start. And then the – they handled it fairly well, I’ll have to say. I didn’t really have a girlfriend at that time, I still found relationships with girls kind of complicated, I was hanging out with my boys big time. I had straight girls – friends that we all hung out together, the artists we were, we used to get dressed up in costumes and go to clubs and just kind of have that, we had a very kind of, studio 54 experience in Minneapolis at that time. The club was called sevenplace and it was renowned for creative dancing and free-spritedness and artistry and just the wildness of the clientele and kind of the avant-garde art.

A: Yeah. So you said your family handled it pretty well when you came out to them. How was that?

I: My mother contacted the minister. So there was no hysteria,there was no screaming, no pulling of the hair, but yeah, I don’t remember being shunned or belittled or anything like that. But I mean there wasn’t, totally embraced. But I felt comfortable

Me: That’s good. Did religion at all play a part in your childhood, or spirituality?

I: Yes, I was a good church-going child. I grew up in the church, the episcopal church, so we didn’t have the fun music and people getting happy that I came to enjoy a little bit later when I visited my friends’ churches but yes, I absolutely grew up in the black church. And lived religiously in kind of a small, Episcopalian community. I think that actually, around twelve or thirteen I stopped going to church because I started deconstructing religion and found it lacking, though I would go holidays- easter, Christmas, thanksgiving – for my parents. Did you grow up in the church?

A: Yes I did, I grew up Catholic.

I: And then came out?

A: I came out a couple of years ago. Actually on the way to church.

I: [laughs] Because you were having a discussion about why you didn’t want to go to church?

A: No, I just sort of brought it up to my mom, I said “I’m going on a date with a girl because I’m bisexual,” and she said “cool, I’m not.” And that pretty much it.

I: Beautiful! So you didn’t have any religiously sanctioned homophobic experiences at the church, even?

A: No, thankfully.

I: Excellent. Is that because you’re not out at the church, or?

A: It was probably a little bit of both. The church I went to is also in a very liberal area.

I: Are you still active?

A: I am actually!

I: Excellent! You know, I miss that. Even though I find religion problematic I do miss the community. And that’s something that we have not been able to find here, in Des Moines, because of our particular makeup. My wife, as you know, is white. My children are bi-ethnic and I find it difficult to be a minority in a mix of minorities. So we have not exactly been welcomed at the black church – we’ve done some exploring, we’ve had some conversations we talked to a few people – we haven’t actually visited the black church but got a very clear idea that we would not necessarily be welcomed. There was one church, Cornerstone, that we could conceivably go to, that I did hear, that might be open armed. We did go to the Unitarian church and I was the only person of color there –

A: Oh wow

I: – Yeah, so, not a comfortable situation.

A: Yeah. So, how did you meet your wife?

I: Ah [laughs] So one of the responsibilities I think of coming from a middle class background is that you rebel. So I rebelled from the status quo, as I said, embraced afro-centrism in my early twenties.OKay, so, I got rid of my perm, grew out my dreadlocks, and changed my name. I had my name legally changed to Imani, which means faith, and Melanie means black or dark, so – and, I grew up, like I said, the city grew up around us and I was living in a primarily white neighborhood- always had friends who were all kinds of ethnicities but part of my education was black, I think I had history, and so I went afro-centric for a number of years. But I still had white friends, and so my white friends would periodically try to hook me up with people [laughs] and I was like “I’m not dating white, I mean really!” but as it happened there was one very persistent friend who worked with Sandi, and we had known each other, gee, it was just – I just composed a song for her sixtieth birthday – I think we’ve known each other [inaudible] we had almost dated in the very beginning I was attracted to her and she was not, and then she was attracted to me and I was not dating white, then. So I had known her I think for about ten years and she also shares my birthday – so we have this innate psychic bond, I think, it can be a very tumultuous relationship at times. She’s very strong willed, very creative, she’s brilliant, I think I shared- have we talked about [inaudible] psychologists?

A: I don’t think we’ve talked about it

I: So enough said, psychologists

But anyway she was just very persistent, she was throwing house parties and people would come over and we’d play cards and just hang out regularly. We had a good time, but at one of these parties she insisted I go to the airport to pick up this friend of hers that she kept telling me about and so okay, “I’ll go and pick this woman up,” and I rolled up and I will never forget, she was dressed all in black and her red hair under the spotlight was just illuminated, so this red beacon, but uh, it was pretty immediate for me that the chemistry was there, immediately, you know, I knew I had met my soulmate and I was ready for her by the time she showed up, and that is the key for happiness. You’ve got to be ready for the teachers when they show up [laughs]

A: So how old were you when you met? Just trying to get a timeline here

I: Well we’ve been together for eighteen years so I was just getting ready to turn forty and she is six years younger than I am. And she had been in a long distance relationship and she actually thought that she was never going to find that special person and she was running out of days. And is often the case when when you stop looking that’s where it is. So it was pretty immediate for her to. She was working – she was doing her post-doc on race and power at the University of Minnesota so she had all the black intellectual requirements that I needed. She was well read and well studied and intellectual and of course brilliant. And [trails off]

A: Okay. So I know when were talking earlier you said you had a complicated relationship with marriage and that institution, would you be willing to talk about that a little bit?

I: Well I decided when I was about twelve years old – so my mother was married and I never really knew my father and – but I had witnessed how through the media I had a couple of friends who had fathers in the home, but the balance in the relationship was unbalanced and I determined at a young age that there was a kind of master/servant dynamic involved in most marriages that I witnessed, and that, I found that problematic and was therefore not interested in getting married. I think that part of my disinterest also was because I wasn’t that I was not that into men, or heteronormative, but I was always that child that questioned everything.

A: Yeah, so – then you decided to get married to Sandi, was that-

I: Revolutionary.

A: Yeah

I: Yeah, straight up revolution [laughs]. We were going to change the world. At the time we got a civil union in Vermont – the first year that it was, that we were able to do so. And we had this lovely honeymoon driving around Canada and going to- we had a fabulous experience at gay pride in Montreal which, because the whole city turns out for gay pride in Montreal it isn’t just a gay thing so it’s just, amazing, it’s really empowering. Curiously though that year there was a bomb threat there as well

A: Wow

I: Yeah, yeah. A bomb set off during gay pride. Yeah, it was interesting times. But we were very consciously revolutionarily married and knew that we were creating changing, encouraging change, and committing to whatever it would take to make sure everyone had equal access to whatever they might want to have.

A: So it really had less to do with your own beliefs than more about activism?

I: Absolutely. It was straight-up activism. Now, Sandi on the other hand [laughs] was, and is more romantic. She grew up in a traditional home and always valued and I think looks at marriage as a sanctified union. It has absolutely turned out to be that, okay, but we had different socializations.

A: Awesome, so, I know you’ve talked- mentioned- a little bit about your childhood and about growing up without – with your father living in Chicago, right?

I: Correct.

A: So how was that, do you have any siblings, what was it like when you were a kid?

I: Papa was a rolling stone [laughs] I did have that stereotypical father who had a number of babies, a number of baby mommas. I have four siblings that I am aware of, two are with one woman, and two are with two different mothers, so I think there are five – four baby mommas as far as I am aware. We did not have a close relationship. I did spend occasional weeks down there as a kid in Chicago but we were never close. I tried to kind of keep in touch with my closest sibling, Micah, but I lost touch with her and just have not really since I’ve been married, I think I tried to reach out at one point but could not find her, probably about four or five years ago I tried but I’m not sure where she is. So I’ve lost that connection. I could probably get in touch with my father if I wanted to, I did notice that he was, on, what’s it called? Spoke-o? It’s this online site for people who who want to be available to their children or relatives who want to find them.

A: Alright.

I: But I’ve always been very active. I have marched on Washington a number of times, I’ve marched on the capital, I’ve lobbied legislatures, I’ve worked in an office for an environmental rights, I’ve gotten on the bus, always very active, and that’s how we are raising our children as well.

A: Okay. Wonderful. I know you talked a little bit about how art has affected you and how music has really worked in your life, and I was wondering if you would talk about that a little bit – the role that that’s played.

I: It’s interesting that you should ask me that because it’s not always positive, I don’t know if you’re one of these people who gets haunted. Do you get haunted? Does music haunt you at night?

A: Not usually, no.

I: Okay. It does me. And I find that problematic. That’s part of – one of the side effects of my craniotomy. If I – well, music did help me heal and it has gotten me to a richer and deeper understanding a greater understanding I think with the spirit force. That also cuts both ways, so, for instance, I find that if I’m not finished with a song I will be haunted by it. So, I try to compose religiously. Every weekend, just to kind of get my head into that frame of mind, to shift the focus from one sense to the other, and I typically am able to kind of churn out a song in an afternoon or something and that was the case last weekend I churned one out, I was pretty sure of it when I put it down, and typically I will go out to messing around with another song. But last night I could not get rid of this song. So, I am not done with it. And that’s what happens typically when I’m not done, the song will let me know [knocks on table] I still have some work to do. And then I don’t sleep when that happens. So it’s, y’know, as I said, it very much cuts both ways. You know I joke about [inaudible] because you know, Michael Jackson called it, he couldn’t sleep, he could not sleep because the music kept him awake. So I am plagued with this. With that being said though, it does give me an enormous amount of pleasure and I find that I like my music better than almost anybody else that’s out there these days. I say it’s jazz, and you know, I call it transent so I just channel   and I’ve gotten more sophisticated as I would need to y’know and my compositions, I’ve said, I’ve been honing that labor of love for probably about two years. But I got garageband – there’s some fine new software out there that will teach you how to play and how to compose. Sandi, after my craniotomy, brought a synthesizer home and and this was associated with the same time that Barack Obama was ascending and his inspiration led me to the keyboard and I was reworking all of these old traditional patriotic songs and “hail to the chiefs” with conga drums and just having a lot of fun with it. So, it has, it’s a great way of kind of channeling frustration, and, like I’ve told my kids you know, you find your gift in art and you channel your energy into it and so I had been involved very athletically and during that time I was not able to move for a very [inaudible]. And so has just about everybody who tries it you know? So what was the last time that you – I mean, you take classes and teach as well, right?

A: Yeah

I: Yeah, so and do you compose as well?

A: Yes. Still doing a lot of music theory classes.

I: Oh my god.

A: [laughs]

I: How are you finding those?

A: I love them!

I: Really? Excellent! Excellent. I was doing something with, what are they called, the sevenths, not the seventh –

A: The diminished seventh?

I: Whatever those… The diminished seventh? Something like that, yeah. Something dominant.

A: Dominant sevenths

I: Yeah, dominant sevenths, yeah. That was my attempt to try to understand theory. Trying to use dominant sevenths, which is, you have no resolution there at all [laughs] so it’s challenging. Yeah, I’m glad you’re – that’s – phew!

A: So, I know your sons play instruments, one plays saxophone and the other one is upright bass, right?

I: Yes, he plays upright, there’s nothing but instruments in our house and I’d love for them to play a little bit more than they do, which is a little sad for me, because they grew up and they just take it for granted, they’re used to having music around the house all the time and they don’t really value it the way that I do. Actually I guess that’s just kind of the nature of a parent child relationship, they don’t have any idea what kind of gift it could be, having been able to expose them to that at such a young age, seeing them becoming to be musicians, Pascale particularly. His teachers say he is very gifted on the saxophone but does he practice? [shakes head no] Don’t like to practice, don’t like to play. But yet, he is very gifted and gets all kind of props from people. But he doesn’t do anything with that. And that is kind of how I was when I was younger as well. So it’s hard watching yourself. But I was the same, I studied playing piano and the family was encouraged by the teachers too – we actually inherited the piano from the church – and I hated to practice, the teachers kept telling my parents just, you know, “she is gifted,” I was able to play music by ear but I had no interest – just no interest whatsoever. Fortunately I found it again later in life.

A: What’s it like – how is it being a mother as a queer couple, like being in a queer relationship as a mother?

I: Well, my children are very fair skinned so as much as they are biethnic, their coloring – they take after their dominant, submissive, red haired mother. Dominant recessive red haired mother. Did I say submissive?

A: Yeah

I: [laughs] Recessive red! Dominant recessive red, who’d have thunk it? They have very pale skin, red naturally – you’ve seen them, right?

A: Yeah

I: So one of the early challenges I had was visibility. Now, if you grow up in a community of color – black hued folks, African communities – they have red haired children. But in Des Moines, the diversity – it’s not as diverse as it is in other places. So people did not immediately recognize me as being their mother, which was very difficult. Very difficult. And that’s still a challenge with some places but with African Americans and African American communities people see me when I go out. And we are now – Des Moines is a small town we have been visible and out and active for all of their lives so people can see us right so, Des Moines is really diversifying itself at this point too. But truly I mean, we did integrate everything. Hospitals and churches and schools and daycares and [coughs] excuse me, neighborhoods, so it was challenging. When we were in the NICU it was, I had to, I was concerned about the quality of care that my children were receiving because of the hostility – veiled – but my babies were born premature, which is typical of twins. Pascal kicked a hole in his sack so Sandi was on bedrest for almost a month –

A: Oh wow

I: Yeah so. It was ironic because she was in the hospital and the doctors let her go home with the admonition that she didn’t go into labor. They said “we’ll let you go home for Christmas but do not under any circumstances go into labor.” so of course we had Christmas babies. She went home and the babies were born the day after Christmas. [laughs] But, yeah but the nurses, they was, people always assume, maybe it’s different now, we’ve caught up a couple generations to differences – but the assumption if people know you’re gay, the women assume that you are somehow interested in them.

A: Yeah

I: Okay? [laughs] So, you know, just that whole notion that just by virtue of being in love with a woman and having a child with her that I had somehow had designs on the nurses it just – it was some crazy happening. We were fortunate though that we did have a nurse.who kind of took us under her wing and really was a wonderful coparent to our children. Both of our parents died prior to the day that the twins were born so we don’t have any grandparents but she acted as sort of a grandparent for a number of years. It saddens me today that we lost that relationship but for about five or six years she was their nana and she just reached out and helped.

A: So, how does the – I know Des Moines can be a very whitewashed city – so what is your experience with that?

I: It has been very difficult. Very difficult. You know, coming from Minnesota. Minnesota in my experience is much more progressive and for me, moving down to Des Moines from Minnesota was very much like going seventy five years into the past. I don’t want to disparage Des Moines cause Des Moines has gotten much better. It has gotten much better. And I have shared with you that it has took me driving Uber to really appreciate how far its come, okay? But superficially you don’t see people like myself here. People – other African American lesbians, of a certain class – and we’ve talked about the difficulty of talking about class sometimes – and with that class comes some privilege. And if you are used to that privilege the more Des Moines is a hostile environment. And both cannot exist here. And I have befriended people throughout the years who could not stay and save themselves essentially and so I’ve found it far more difficult to befriend people because I knew it would be difficult for them to stay around. So it’s been difficult, I’ve been reclusive, much more reclusive. My employment. I have been self employed largely, though minimally in recent years because it has been more difficult as a marginalized minority to recover from the recession. I was in real estate and we were kind of flipping houses before that became part of the American vernacular. We inherited properties and as my wife’s family was in the property business we did what they did and that was bought and sold and rented out and fixed up and so we did that for a number of years and we just sort of went way, way up. Without a safety net essentially because we did not really understand. There was nothing previous to that which could have informed our experience. Flipping was not an American experience. So we just sort of serendipitously fell into it in a very fortunate time. And then was failed by it and had a very difficult time recovering because we were African Americans we were lesbians we – we had a very difficult time recovering. And because of my particular location here in Des Moines [36:03] it has – Des moines is a very small town. People who are here, in my experience, are here because their families have been here for generations. They are oftentimes first generation urban dwellers so they come from generations of rural folk and value the closeness of the family and the community. So it’s a nice step up town if you’re used to a rural experience but it’s not really a metropolis. It’s getting there. It is absolutely getting there. It is much more comfortable for me than I’m used to be but I am still very reclusive. I still find that I have a difficult time finding outside news. It’s very difficult time for me to find to be [inaudible]. As my wife is an academic we are fortunate enough we can take summers off and we do and that is one of the reasons I am able to stay as sane as I am because I can touch down in the greater community. This summer in DC, DC of course is chocolate city, my wife matriculated at Maryland which is a [inaudible]. So she has a whole community of folks – excuse me – that she went to college with and who have been there a while so she has this family there as well. I have relatives there. I was there for five days and I was able to plug in immediately in ways that I have never been I felt engaged – it’s challenging because I am a bit of a hustler, you know, I am an entrepreneur. I can throw some business plans together, I can throw some ideas together, I can create a product. What has been challenging for me again is making those connections with people I can take that next step with. I go someplace like DC and everything I need is already there and I can plug in immediately places like that, with relativism, people see me, whereas in Des Moines they have no idea what they’re looking at, okay? So it’s been very, very difficult. Very difficult. But you know I can look at your generation and truly now, I mean truly, Ang, it’s because of you that I am able now to own my true experience that I have in fact truly affected change during the most powerful transition in American gay history, I mean we’re there, and I look back at Longtime Companion – do you know that movie? It talks about the AIDS epidemic of the 70’s and 80’s.

A: I don’t think I’ve see that.

I: That’s a classic.

A: Okay, I’ll look that up.

I: Okay well I came to age during the time when the AIDS epidemic was still unnamed and so just, all those beautiful, active, gay boys that did not make it, you know – [begins crying and pauses] My children [pauses again] This whole generation, of my children, they used to have this huge Halloween party every year because my children are Christmas babies and like all Christmas babies got the short end of the stick and had that one Christmas-Birthday present so we would always have this big, broad Halloween party and invite everyone from both of their classes. The kids have always been in different grades. We were told by an old friend of Sandi’s, who was also a twin, to separate them as early as possible. And we were fortunate, even though we went to a very small school, Walnut Street School, we came in at a time when they kept adding a different class each year, so every year they’d add a different class, so they were in separate classes all along. So we’d have fifty kids, from the time they were in kindergarten, coming to the Halloween party every year. And then to look at these kids who are queer and gender-nonconforming and just very contented and – it’s a beautiful, beautiful thing. And it shores me up in more difficult times. I see how we have made a difference.

A: Yeah.

I: So the whole school system. I mean, truly, we were very out and Sandi works with Walnut Street still today and I think she had not the greatest experience last time, but she will bring Drake in to teach classes and to work with the students at Walnut Street so you have this whole kind of cross pollination. Her students were being exposed to our queer students, as were all the parents at Walnut Street who were exposed.

A: Yeah, I think visibility is very important. At least it has been for me.

I: Right. And yeah, they’ve all been very nonplussed about it. We had a colleague of my wife’s, who was telling her that she went to pick up her child, who also goes to the same school, and she heard some children taunting Pascal – she thought they were taunting him about being gay. And there was some discussion about – anyway. But as it happened, they were not taunting Pascal, there is – these are kids who are very comfortable about being gay at this school and it’s not a big deal. They were curious and were all up in his business but there was no animosity or they weren’t rude, or stuff like, kids picking on him. Now, did you get that experience at school as well? Did you have anyone who was visible and out?

A: I was actually homeschooled. So all the visibility I had was in the media – you know, queer people I saw in the media. And my mom was always very open about what things meant, you know I asked her at one point what it meant to be transgender and she just said “well, some people are born in the wrong body and we don’t really know why but it happens and sometimes they have surgery and sometimes they don’t and they live with the right gender but it doesn’t really match their body.”

I: It sounds like you have a remarkable family. So all your siblings were homeschooled?

A: Yeah.

I: Were your parents homeschooled?

A: No they were not.

I: So you tested into Drake then?

A: Yes.

I: So what is that like?

A:It’s good.

I: So is there – I’m assuming – is there any “I did not go to a traditional high school” test?

A:They just rely more on the ACT and SAT scores than they would for kids who go to a public high school.

I: And so, how has your experience been, going from homeschooling to a private university?

A: It’s been a lot easier, I think, for me than it has for a lot of my peers because I’m used to keeping my own schedule, making sure I’m doing my own work, and so I think it’s a lot harder – or it was a lot harder freshman year – for a lot of my peers to be responsible for their own academics. In that way it’s been a lot easier.

I: That makes sense. Would you like to taste some of this? [offers me the tea she offered]

[we traded teas]

I: White tea can be a bit hard for me, caffeine can be a bit hard.

A: I think we’re near the end of the hour, is there anything you would like to add? Anything you’d like to talk about before we end?

I: No, I mean. We talked about how your generation has – as fortunate as you are – has absolutely lost something and it saddens me. But I think, compared to assimilation, because that is in fact exactly what it is. So those – that connection is not as apparent as it used to be. And that makes me a little sad. But I’d say that it is – that it was a war well won. And I am delighted to talk to a youngster, and to youngsters in general, and see that we have won.

A: Alright. And that will be interview one.