Tag Archives: family

Notes From the 6 Train: What I’ve Been Up To

One thing I love about FIT’s winter break is that it’s so long. We have over a month to celebrate, travel and rejuvenate before beginning the new semester and it’s much appreciated. This break I have been able to accomplish so much and there’s still two weeks left. One main priority of mines was to spend as much time with Catherine as possible. Catherine is essentially my ten year old daughter, or at least it feels like it. I’ve been playing with her since I was a sophomore in high year school, six years, and have learned so much from her. I’ve found that kids are some of the best teachers because they are unknowingly honest, haven’t learned to view the world through the various lenses adults have and are usually far less judgmental then adults as well.

Catherine is extra special. She has Aspergers Syndrome, which is on the high end of the Autism spectrum. I began playing wit Catherine in high school to combat my fears of people with special needs, (not to mention the pay was pretty great for a high school sophomore.) But what started as a part time job grew into a journey of love and acceptance. As mentioned before, I will admit that I was afraid or people with special needs, mostly because I didn’t know or ever have to interact with people with special needs.

Throughout the years of play with Catherine, I’ve learned that people with special needs and I are not very different, we experience the world in different ways. I am not necessarily smarter or better then her, we just excel in different capacities. She can do things I wish I could do. Her memory is astonishing. She can hear something once and repeat it back perfectly, it’s simply amazing. What is most amazing though, is her lack of judgement and ability to truly love unconditionally. I don’t think even think race or color resonates with her, the only color she ever makes a fuss about is the color of my hair ( which is constantly changing). People claim to be “color-blind,”  which is simply not true. There are several studies that prove that color is the first thing humans notice, it does cover our entire body, making it a bit difficult to ignore. Being loved by someone who does try and turn a blind eye to our differences, but rather simply accepts me as I am, is a privilege.

I could literally write an entire paper on what Catherine has taught me. As we get closer to the beginning of the semester, remember the classroom is not the only to place to learn. Grow your soul.

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(Here’s a photo of us from this summer attempting to paddle boat)

All things Color, Love & Fashion,

Ayanna L.

Notes from the 6 Train: Creating New Traditions

College, for many, is the first time that they may spend the holiday season away from their family. However, this not mean that the feeling of the season should simply disseapper! This is the perfect time of year to create new, exciting traditions tailored to your interests. For students who may not be able to travel home, ( like international students, or working students who can’t miss work, etc.), it’s the perfect time to start the holiday tradition you may have always wanted as a kid, but never had! Like a pink tree or eating pizza for holiday dinner.

For me, it was to create a safe space for my friends and I during the holiday season. Having lots of family around can be joyful, but being under the scrunity of prying family members can also be stressful. This is especially true for young queers. My solution was to create a safe haven, if only for a few hours. This was the original idea behind the annual “Queer- Friendly, Ugly Christmas Sweater Potluck.” A place for us all to congregate to eat, drink and be merry, with no uncomfortable table talk about relationships or other topics many students don’t want to discuss during the holiday season (grades, plans after graduation, etc.). This year will be our fourth potluck and every year it grows. It’s become a tradition that I’m asked about every year, and grows annually. It’s amazing to see that this event has picked up a life of its own and is apart of my holiday traditions.

Remember, family comes in many forms. For some, immediate family is really important, and others find family within their friend group. The holidays are what you make them.

All things Color, Love & Fashion,

Ayanna L.