Thursday night found Dodd Living room packed with over 100 people eagerly tilting their heads toward a row of chairs positioned in front of the fireplace. The crowd was ready to take part in one of mankind’s oldest oral traditions: that of Super Storytime.
Organized by Storyboard, Super Storytimes are a deviation from the standard Storytime, in which one nominated individual spends about an hour telling a personal story in Paresky every Sunday evening. For Super Storytime, six individuals from the College community told short personal stories organized around a central theme. The theme for this event, being so close to Valentine’s Day, was love. In all, the six speakers told five stories from different perspectives that could have proved to even the bitterest of cynics that true love can and does exist.
The first speaker was Sarah Jensen ’17, who described the evolution of her relationship with her boyfriend, Joe, a current junior at Bowdoin. The pair has been dating since 2010. She related how, as best friends, they shared the privilege – and the challenge – of growing up together.
For Jensen, the major shift in the relationship was in their transition from high school to college. After coincidentally sitting in on the same class at Middlebury while touring colleges as high school seniors, the pair realized in that, in order to grow as people, they needed to attend separate colleges. Throughout their first year of college, what may seem like a relationship doomed to fail instead blossomed, though not without its bumps in the road. Despite the miles that separated them, the two have remained a part of each other’s lives.
“We’ve given each other the space to grow up in going to different schools, and [we] still cared enough to get to know who the other was becoming,” Jensen said. “I think a lot of people think we’re crazy for doing what we do, but I think we’re lucky to have found each other.”
Next up was Caroline Atwood ’16, whose idyllic summer romance was one for the ages. Her epic tale, set in Grand Canyon National Park on Scott and Bernice Lewis’ annual spring break trip, tells of her infatuation with a handsome park ranger, steel-toed boots and all. She wove the story together with literary finesse, from the glove that he “accidentally” dropped on the trail that she eagerly returned to him, to the moment where they admitted their feelings for each other while watching the sunset on “lover’s bench.”
Carolyn Miles, associate director of student athlete services, then told the story of her spouse Natalie, whom she first met at the summer camp where they had both worked in college. They married illegally in 2005, after which they treasured the time they could spend together while Natalie, a professional soccer player in England who lacked a visa, was able to remain in the United States. From announcing her marriage to her conservative family, to finally securing a green card for her spouse, to giving birth to and raising their children, Miles demonstrated the importance of taking chances and making sacrifices to be with the person you truly love.
“I think it’s super important for you guys to just keep up your loves and passions and work for them, because it will work out, hopefully,” Miles said.
Andrew Bloniarz ’18 told a refreshing story of platonic love: the affection he received from all of his friends throughout his life and the fulfillment he receives from interacting with others.
Bloniarz did make a cheeky pass at romantic love when joking about his desire to meet more people once starting high school. “I decided I wanted to stop spending my nights alone, so I started dating. I dated myself,” he said.
Bloniarz joined clubs and sports teams, and his high school teammates started regarding him as a “doting mother.” His affectionate tendencies have since flowered at the College, where he has received back all of the love he has put into the campus community. His story highlighted the vital importance of platonic love, one that can be easy to forget, especially around Valentine’s Day.
The final speakers were a pair of recent alums, Tatum Barnes ’15 and Taylor Bundy ’13, who told a joint story about their relationship while at the College and after graduation. Bundy, who graduated two years before Barnes, related the challenge of finding love late in her college career, and maintaining a close relationship while first working in New York, and then returning to the College to work at the Career Center while Barnes was a senior.
Barnes explained the challenges of supporting his partner, who was at a very different stage in her life, from afar. He provided comfort and support despite gaps in understanding while still at the College. Their story included all of the hesitation that comes with the typical college romance and valuable lessons learned after entering the real world.
After hearing all of the stories, it was clear that Super Storytime was the ultimate feel-good event, celebrating love in all the right ways – and just in time for Valentine’s Day.