Remember Sarah Bishop
home remembrance book
camp adams scholarship photo album contact
intro page poetry


Elise Thatcher

Every weekday I sit at a desk that's literally in the middle of a hallway, with new staffers bumping back and forth up and down the hall behind my back.
To my right I have pictures of living in Arizona, with a section just to the side reserved for black and white photos. The first black and white is of the Ramshackle, during a party Sarah and Joseph and Paul and D threw while I was living there in the Summer 2002. Sarah stands in the doorway between the front room and the kitchen, pirate-costumed and in intense conversation with be-wigged Isaac and casually comfortable Steph Dozono. It was a night of much Whittie alumni conversation and random friendly Portland fun, one I remember as part of a memorable summer in P-town living with the Ramshackle.

Sarah was one of a cast of five, but in some ways she made the biggest impression on me at the time. I was 21, still finding my way in the almost-free-of-school, still trying to do good in the world zone. I was about to return to Whitman knowing I would be there at least a semester longer than my peers, as had Sarah a few years earlier. Hearing her stories helped calm my fears that it was a mistake to take more time with school, that I would fail the treadmill degree if I delayed a stroke past may 25th.

During the summer in Portland she would tell silly stories of dating (unstable) older men in their 30's, eating an entire batch of cookies in one night, and of the occasion in Mexico of having to explain to "federales" what her gladrags were. The content of her stories often wasn't funny, but her frank yet humorous way of retelling the events transformed them into vignettes I would later remember on several occasions. Whenever I wash out gladrags in an airport bathroom or otherwise find myself in a compromising position, I am able to shrug it off, thinking of her easygoing “Oh, well.... okay" response to stress that would drive others bonkers.

Sarah also introduced me to the wonders of homemade chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwiches, which she made for Joseph's birthday that summer. They were huge and delicious. She and Paul also dragged me to "Harold and Maude,” which I immediately loved, and talked about theories of social and political importance we'd read at Whitman and how or whether they could be applied in real life.

What I realized through these conversations and in living with her was that it is possible to be young and human, figuring out what positive changes are within reach and what challenges are almost, but not quite too daunting. I still hope I will be as involved in my community as she was, both with 100% Portland and Harry's Mother—more importantly, knowing her has helped me better visualize what we're all capable of.

I miss Sarah. I don't want this to be an inspirational essay, which it's starting to sound like. In the meantime, I will have her picture here, close to me, and whenever I hear Cat Stevens, I feel drawn to love the world at large, no matter how ugly and unwieldy it is.

<< previous







Web Site Design by
Fireside Design Studio
return to top