At the beginning of my junior year in college I moved into Adams B-46, a four-person suite in one of Harvard's dorms. I shared a bedroom with Abby, my roommate from sophomore year, and the two singles went to May, a roommate of Abby's from freshman year, and Rachel, a friend I had made through a summer job. "B-46"quickly entered our vocabulary as a word to describe how we felt about our experience as roommates.
That fall I began to take pictures, wanting to capture how young and energetic and amazing we all were. At the time, I thought I'd write a photo-essay and call it "Remarkable Women" a quasi-insider reference to Radcliffe's slogan "A Tradition of Remarkable Women."
Two years later, when I finally developed my film and transcribed my tapes, I found I had captured less of my roommates as individuals and more about our collective identity and the relationships within our room. This troubled me somewhat. I mean, we were remarkable. We did things like speak at conferences, win All-American titles, start volunteer programs to help low-income mothers in Boston, found women's JV ice hockey teams, and win tens of thousands of dollars of grant money to pursue our various and assorted interests. Among other things. So why all this talk about relationships? Why all this talk about how we "feel"? Was I inadvertently looking for the wrong things? Asking the wrong questions? Was I part of some sort of insidious feminist backlash?
I eventually decided was that I had simply focused on that which no one
else had. For all of the "remarkable" things listed in the last
paragraph, there were certificates to take home, grandparents to notify,
bullet points to add to our resumes. But there was another side to our
lives that was equally important to us, and which went largely unaffirmed.
In the midst of our over-commitment and ambition we spent tremendous time
caring about each other and building our own internal community.