Actually, I wasn't able to leave for school that fall, just after my father had sold and packed up the house, vowing never to mow another lawn. I was too sick with ulcerative colitis. Another story, blah and blah and blah, more blah, which, interesting as it might be, I'm going to ignore in order to get to Bard --
and the worst possible choice I could have made. There was great freedom and no grades and many young New Yorkers from disrupted families who were more obviously crazy than I was. (Mine was carefully hidden under a demure appearance, though I was rampantly hopeless.) I'm sure that many of them were thoughtful and studious, as was my friend Jane who I'm quite sure took these photos of Kemper and me. But, there was a swilling atmosphere of sex, before the sexual revolution, lots of chaos and I had no ability to focus on anything of substance. My unconscious goal was sliding downward toward the mess I was going to create for myself during the next ten years, though I didn't know that.
At that point, Bard (formerly St. Stephens) was called the little red whore house on the hill. Fine people taught there like Ralph Ellison. Of course I didn't have the sense to take a course with him (he taught quite formal traditional courses, Shakespeare, I think, ((which I took with someone else,)) and nothing about what was then called the negro experience), though a few years later, he greeted me kindly on the street when we met walking on the Upper West Side of New York. I was astonished that he'd remember me, a no one who he didn't know, and considered it an example of his generalized kindness.
Perhaps Jean Erdman was teaching at Bard, then, but I'd given up my fascination for dance under the pretext that at Bard, rules, steps, concepts would be taught and I would no longer have the freedom of the Isadora Duncan type dance classes that my mother had enrolled me in.
Elizabeth Stambler, my advisor, thought she could trick me into concentrating by requesting that I read poems out loud to her, perhaps by Herbert? Herburt?, during our meeting. The flow of my speech would indicate whether I'd studied them. I never did. It would have been pointless because I knew virtually nothing of the heavy Christian symbolism. It wouldn't have dawned on her that I might have been raised as an agnostic, kept from much connection with any religious symbolism. I was evidentially able to fool her. For some reason, not connected to my performance of the poems, she got very annoyed, said that I reminded her of her daughter, a passive exterior, a volcano inside. She was right, of course, but I had no access to those boiling feelings.
I was an English major who fancied that she would write stories. I do remember a plaintive note from Donald Finkle, a poet, asking why on earth that woman was living in a cabin on the dunes. What had brought her there? There was no way I could answer that question because I was not wrestling with what on earth was taking me where I was heading.
Actually I was majoring in screwing around and in being screwed, which I could manage in the vaguest way, though I imagine that whatever diaries I wrote, if I wrote any, would make it seem as if I was present. I could stack words together, nothing under them.
Because I liked sculpture and spent hours in the damp studio Harvey Fite had set up, creating forms that looked very much like me (ah ha, here is the forerunner of the endless nude self-portrait photographs!), I was invited to become an Art major. But I cleverly dodged having to make a big choice like that by getting pregnant, having a legal abortion, planning to marry Kemper when he graduated which meant I quit after my sophomore year to wander off and do nothing much.
In general, I have not ever wanted much, not made plans, but have tried to work with whatever befell me through this awkward way of approaching life. Going to Bard was a conscious decision. A dreadful one. I have to say that for Kemper it was the best choice he could have made, a school that really allowed him to function without narrow restrictions.