Dear QWOC+ Boston,
If there’s anything I regret this summer, it’s the fact that I did not get the chance to give all of you a hug good-bye last night after we celebrated the commencement of my internship with cake, photos, and, of course, Japanese food. However, I think it’s the most appropriate departure I could have given – a cliffhanger, as opposed to a definite end. If you thought you’ve gotten rid of me, you’re quite wrong. In fact, you are now stuck with me and several of my friends who, after hearing me fawn over you and this internship for the last three months, are now trying to figure out an “in.” One friend asked if you needed an intern for the fall; another asked if any of you were looking to adopt another little sister into the crew.
I send them to you all with pride, armed with the knowledge of how much you’ve affected my life for the better. I would be lying if I said this summer has been easy. With my bouts in and out of the hospital (due entirely to my gift of clumsiness and perhaps slight case of hypochondria), my sanity ceaselessly tested by my part-time job, and my break ups and breakdowns, things couldn’t have been more wild. In the midst of my personal emo lifestyle, I was given more responsibility than I’ve ever been faced with and, given that I respect you all so much, I pushed myself harder than I’ve ever pushed myself before for any one thing. Even with all of your endless support, encouragement, and praise, I still feel that I owe you all far much more than I’ve given and I can only hope that I some day make up for that fact.
I’ve always been a spiritual person and I’ve been told countless times by my mother, pastor, and various women in my family that when God closes one door, he opens up another. As the summer approaches its end, I realize that this reality could not have been more true. As I ended my first year of college, I was faced with the distressing fact that my older sister, who was finishing up her senior year at Harvard, would be returning to the West Coast post-graduation. Though she often complained about her thesis or having a life outside of babysitting, my older sister was my rock and I always knew that, no matter what I had to face during the academic and social catastrophes that often made up my life at Wellesley, she was only a train ride away. It was difficult knowing that I would truly be on my own after her departure. Imagine my pure glee in realizing that as my biological sister figures out her life across the country, I have been blessed with six more adoptive sisters to help guide my way through this crazy city and college life.
I started this internship only wanting a bit of experience in blogging and a nice recommendation letter to leave with. I didn’t expect to be opened up to an entirely new world – that is to say, I didn’t expect to stumble upon my own. I grew up with mostly white friends in a mostly straight setting with not too much variation. I came to Wellesley and was shockingly given the opportunity to meet a few more queer women of color, but was limited only to my campus, limited to conversations only about what we knew, which wasn’t much. We only knew that we weren’t the same as other queer girls or other women of color and for some reason, we felt left out of the conversation. Any conversation. Every conversation. Indeed, the only person with whom I could have a full on, empathetic discussion about my experiences was my sister. And now I’ve discovered that there’s actually an entire community out there that I can learn from, who understands me, and who are having conversations of their own.
12 weeks ago, I was just a black teen with a propensity for writing and women. There wasn’t too much else that defined me. And maybe that’s who I still am and I’m okay with that. But my path is a little clearer now, and my faith in my self and this life is a little stronger. I have a passion that I believe I can follow with a family, adopted and otherwise, that I believe will follow me.
I cannot thank you enough and, while I may give the stink eye to whatever young lady or fellow takes my place from here, I only hope that their experience is just as crazy, just as powerful, and just as life-altering.
But this isn’t a good-bye or even a cliff-hanger. It’s merely a pause – after all, I still owe at least four of you hugs and one of you a Sailor Moon marathon.
Until next time.
Erika Turner, former QWOC+ Boston Intern