Dear Princeton University, I love you

We have spent the week in Princeton because I realized – in the nick of time – that the chemistry tutor we had for the whole year knew nothing about AP tests. The chemistry AP went fine, if you don’t count all my screaming and my slow slip into alcoholism. So I decided to keep the same tutor for AP biology. One more week in Princeton.

We are staying at a hotel across from the university. First we were tourists, and I got a hat with a P on it. Then we were regulars and the salesperson at J Crew knew we were the family that forgot to pack underwear. As the AP test nears its end, we have our Princeton routine down.

There are 20 practice rooms with pianos. At Swarthmore College we got kicked out, even though the pianos are always available. But in Princeton, even in the evening when the music building was closed, an official-looking adult asked us what we needed and then unlocked the building to let us in.

This is a moment when I would have said, dyanu. But there was also Internet that was so fast that the kids played League every evening after studying and practice was done. Quote from my son, “I could have never moved up to gold if it weren’t for this amazing Internet.”

We also went to tons of events on campus. Truls Mork played cello in most beautiful, intimate setting, and a student rearranged seating so we could get two, last-minute seats together. We went to a debate about the first amendment. And we got an early start on AP Art History: “Richard Serra is a minimalist sculptor and he uses enormous shapes to change our experience of space.”

Then, today, when we were walking down to the music building, there were two guys, just past the Gothic arch, in the middle of the path, oblivious to everyone around them, making out.

My son said, “Mom…”

I said, “I see. You haven’t seen that before, have you?”


And it was wow: Their arms were strong and entangled, and their heads were curled into each other, and it was one of the most romantic kisses I’ve seen anywhere. As we got closer they unfurled.

We walked behind them for about 50 yards before they turned down a different path. I wanted to chase after them and say, “Hey! Talk to my son! He is 12 and he is gay and he never meets anyone like you. Please talk to him. Please can he eat lunch with you. Please tell me how to take care of my son! And thank you so much. And thank your parents for raising sons who can be such a nice influence on my son.”

I have so much I could say to those two guys. But I thought maybe the real joy of this moment is that they are students just being students. They are just two college kids making out all over campus, just like all other college kids do, and I shouldn’t call them out and ask them questions and give them a hug of my own.

So I am writing this post instead. To thank all of Princeton for making this magical moment for my son. Because it takes a community to create that moment. And were so grateful to be part of it for these two weeks.

7 replies
  1. Kate
    Kate says:

    We love the Princeton campus too. We live about 30 minutes from there. Happy you were able to have such a great experience!

  2. Grace
    Grace says:

    There is something magical about being young and free to express yourself in a place where you feel safe. I think you will do great in helping your son navigate.

  3. Denise
    Denise says:

    BEAUTIFULLY written, expressed post. I loved this, You and the boys sounded relaxed and free, just roaming the campus and going to events. You made Princeton sound magical with its architecture and history (I’ll probably never see it in person) yet modern with its LIGHTNING SPEED internet, and of course, classic Penelope….your LOVE for LOVE ! For other people, for your boys and how far they’ve come in their Unschooling journey, gaming in the halls of Princeton University. Loved it. Thanks!!!

  4. Jennifer Wisdom
    Jennifer Wisdom says:

    Love it. I can so see his face when he saw two men exciting for him… How validating for him..cant say anything other than love it!

  5. Tracy
    Tracy says:

    Reading your description of the two young men makes me recommend KJ Charles’ Society of Gentlemen series for some good historically-accurate gay romance set in regency England (dunno if suitable for 12yr old tho)

  6. Bostonian
    Bostonian says:

    Hey, maybe your son should apply to Princeton. They accept some homeschooled students. Princeton is a great place to study science.

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