Andrea Crawford

WRITER AND JOURNALIST

“Tell us what brought you to this work,” the teacher said to us, and I stifled a sigh.

I hate sharing intimate things about myself. I especially hate doing so while sitting in a circle. But here I was on a Saturday morning with my new classmates, twenty-five near strangers with whom I would be spending the next two years, sitting in a circle, sharing.

I gazed through the floor-to-ceiling windows along one side of our sleek conference room, instinctively searching for some sort of exit. We were on the 48th floor of 1 Bryant Park, the Bank of America building in New York City, and snowflakes were swirling upwards, as if the laws of gravity did not apply here. On the near horizon stood the Empire State Building, and it unsettled me to be eye-level with its mid-point.

One by one, my classmates answered, and I grew more nervous. The woman could not have asked me a more difficult question, and as my stomach, chest, and throat tightened, I knew it was not the usual agitation felt by an introvert about to speak publicly that was affecting me. No, I realized, to my horror, I was in danger of becoming publicly emotional. And if there’s one thing I hate more than sitting in a circle, it’s emoting in a circle. For God’s sake pull yourself together, my inner critic hissed. My turn came, and I took a breath and spoke:

“I moved to New York City to get as far away from farming as I possibly could.”

The newly admitted class of Farm School NYC laughed.

I smiled, and hoped they had not seen my bottom lip quiver.