A Memoirby Joyce Carol Oates
Where we find ourselves is often not where we’ve sent ourselves. One day it happens that we are awakened to the thought Here. Here I am. Why?
Madison, Wisconsin. September 1960. For the first time in my (relatively) young life, I’d flown alone—I arrived at the small airport in Madison breathless with anticipation. No doubt I had not slept the night before in anticipation of the flight into the unknown. For I was leaving home after a brief summer in Millersport, after graduating from Syracuse University; this time, enrolled in graduate school at the University of Wisconsin with the intention of earning a master’s degree in American literature and, if all went well, eventually a PhD—it seemed clear to me, as to my parents, that I was leaving home permanently.
I was twenty-two years old. Though it seems preposterous to me now, at the time twenty-two did seem somewhat old.