During Flex, the eighth grade class had the privilege of meeting Alexandra Fuller and being able to experience and relive the life of an aspiring writer growing up in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) through her moving stories.
Fuller was not what I expected. She was dressed in a plum cashmere sweater and sturdy grey jeans, but despite her muted outerwear, she exuded such energy and life that our whole class was soon mesmerized with her lively facial expressions and animated hand gestures. Her accent was soft, but angular in places, and her voice had a captivating cadence. As Ms. Terkeltaub read questions, Fuller would suddenly leap up, face alight with a story on the verge of being told, take three long strides to the center of the room, and start providing us with half an answer, before going on about a tangent; sometimes it was about the time when she rode across the desert on horseback without water or food for days, or the time she almost drowned while being stuck in a coffin with a drunk ship captain. My favorite story was when she recounted the time her eight-year-old daughter and she had to face a bear in the wilderness. The audience was still; everyone bit their fingernails with baited breath until we all breathed a sigh of relief when we reached the end.
Particularly, I think what made Fuller’s memoir so poignant was the fact that it came straight from her heart. Fuller encouraged us to write stories that mattered to us, not to write for other people. When question time started, aspiring writers in the audience (including myself), bombarded her with one question after another: “Did you always know you were going to be a writer?”, followed by a more personal question, “Tell us about your kids,” to which she merrily proceeded to describe her lacrosse-loving son, and her horseback-almost-died-in-the-forest-with-a-bear daughter.
By the time our session with Ms. Fuller was over, there were many groans of sadness, and as we shuffled out the choral room legs numb from sitting and tensing up during the climaxes of her anecdotes, several students separated to go talk to Ms. Fuller, while murmurs of the transfixing session followed them out. Not everyone lives a life as brimming with harrowing life or death stories, nor lived a life in the midst of a revolution, bit I think there is a story within each and everyone one of us that can be brought out. If I had to narrow it down to one thing that I learned from Fuller, it is to “Carpe diem,” the English translation being “seize the day.” While Fuller acknowledges that she has regrets, my personal opinion is that she is a lady who lives with no regrets.
by Sho Sho H. ’19
We have three of Fuller’s books in the library! -Librarian