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  • Eric Santomauro-Stenzel

Are We Still Friends?

Original Kirkland College handbooks, advertisements, newsletters, and other memorabilia assorted by a tree with leaves growing from it.

Dear Kirkland People,

There is something so beautiful about a weed. I’m not the first to remark on it. It is hated. It is ruled over. It does not belong. And yet– it persists. It is defiant. It knows its rights to remain there, to spring from the dirt and declare its presence, beautiful on its own terms.

Hamilton keeps mowing over them. And yet.

In due time, my analyses and histories will enter the canon of Walter Pilkington, Sam Babbitt, Maurice Isserman, and Saphire Ruiz. But for now, I need to show you I am real. I am here. I am alive. I had forgotten, and I think some of you did, too.

You bring me so many feelings, my friends. I know so much about you, and you me, but knowing and understanding are not the same thing. Spliced between the marches and the interviews and the many meetings, I had the chance to meet some of you. How funny that I’ve spent time with some of you over the last five weeks that I haven’t in five years. I look up and realize the end is indeed here, however convinced I was that this bubble was eternal and infinite, despite my writing like I’m running out of time and tomorrow won’t arrive, to borrow a phrase.

Sometimes, something, or several things, happen in such a way that you know life will never be the same again. Most of those things have occurred through Hamilton, for me. There were many positive moments of transformation and self-discovery; I wish I could say they were the majority. I caused some, others caused some, and many times we shared the responsibility for our suffering.

Yet, I have planted so very many seeds here, seeds which I eagerly watch grow with much anticipation and apprehension. I have blown out the dandelions wherever I could find them, however many times the wind whisked them away or the mower eradicated them. Just now, as the weather warms, I start to find some shade for you and I to sit in, together. I wish I could sit with you just a little longer. I wish those who were pushed away were here to see this. I wish this was not goodbye. I wish I could say hello a few more times, drop by your office without an appointment, have some tea, watch the sunset, plan the next agenda or issue, pack a bowl, have some box wine, introduce you to our cat, sit in some rocking chairs, and dream a little. I wish I wish I wish. But it is time. For both of us.

I have to go, but you will always be my old friend. You who ask what you will do without me must know that you still have me as much as I do you, if we try. Will you try for me, if I try for you? Can we each offer the love you did to me, and the action I offered to you, though we didn’t always recognize it? Can we make up for lost time, worlds away? Can you avoid the mistakes I made? Can you continue to empower this watchful Monitor to bear witness, growing its affirmation? Can you water our weeds and let them grow into mighty trees, adorned with a leaf, apple, and flower, for all of us to share? Please? Don’t make me beg – you know I will.

As Sam wrote to the Kirkland Charter Class on their 10th reunion:

“You were not children of a different time, of an aberration called the 70s. You are gifted, fortunate deviants with a role to play in this, or any, time. Natalie and I see enough of you in our new life to know that you are out there in the world, finding ways to be, that are both fulfilling and useful. To the extent that that is true, Kirkland has been the success that we all believe it to have been.”

Yours everlasting,


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Robert Knight
Robert Knight
May 18

Good luck, Eric. It’s been a pleasure.


Nevaeh Gutierrez
Nevaeh Gutierrez
May 18

Beautiful piece. Wishing you so much joy with your next steps Eric.

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