We decided to take a drive to check out the beach. It was way too crowded, so we ended up at UCSD to check out my new school, parts of which are actually beachside. It’s been ten years since I had been on this campus and while we walked outside the Geisel Library, I was overwhelmed and began sobbing.
Ten years ago we lived in Los Angeles, my daughter was only two, and I slept on a friend’s couch for two weeks away from my family while I worked this job in San Diego producing the production of UCSD’s giant 50th anniversary celebration. It was one of the most technically challenging jobs of my career, having multi-day main-stage events day and night on campus, including a live performance of a popular band at the time (Far East Movement), and a gala dinner with a 360-degree uniform surround projection attended by Dr. Seuss’s wife, Audrey Geisel, who I was so excited to meet. She had a longstanding relationship with UCSD before her death, donating Theodor Geisel’s personal papers to the university library, including more than 12,000 items — original drawings, manuscripts, sketches, books and other memorabilia that I got to see and touch personally. I was thrilled to meet her because ever since I was a child, Dr. Seuss books were my favorite. Through my adulthood, I made it a point to collect every single book he ever wrote, which I have since handed down to my daughter. I loved the books for their messages. I believed his messages as a child to be inclusive, to be bold, to be imaginative, to not be confined by expectation. I believed him when he said I could move mountains. As an adult, my husband and I have collected a few of his fine art paintings. To me, his drawings represent a new way of seeing the world, a surreal and simple way of thinking bigger than ourselves on a fundamentally human level.
I had forgotten all of that yesterday, until I saw the Geisel Library, and until I saw the sculpture in front of it with Dr. Seuss at his drawing table, “Oh the Places You’ll Go” cover art being drawn, with the Cat in the Hat standing next to him. Suddenly a flood of my childhood washed over me – being alone with those books, moving them with me place to place for a lifetime, not having the opportunity to go to college at the right age, the struggle to survive, to build a career, to build a family, on my own since I was 17 – all to lead me to standing at the base of that library, with my family, a career behind me, and now, unbelievably, a student at this university.
I can’t wait to see what this next chapter will be. I look forward to being surrounded by science, by intelligent forward-thinkers, where I hope to gain the confidence and skill to create a new life for myself and my family, whom I could never have done any of this without. I look forward to using the art and power of words to hopefully elicit the same inclusive, bold, imaginative, unconfined messages that make others believe they can move mountains, too. It may have taken me a lifetime to get here, but I have a good feeling that the wait will have been worth it.