I moved into Harold Smith a bewildered new sophomore in September of 2008. Almost exactly two years ago today I met a girl who has shaped my entire growth as a Deerfield student. After the first dorm meeting I sat awkwardly on the common room couch not wanting to go back to my room alone when I was approached by a wavy-haired girl with glasses, blue polka-dot pajamas, and rainbow socks. “Hi, I’m Izzy,” she said, and stuck out her hand to shake mine in a very official manner. “I’m Charlotte,” I said. “Where are you from?” she asked, and when I said New York she gave me what I call “the look.” Now if you ever had a conversation with Izzy, you know what “the look” is. The “seriously?” look – a flat, emotionless glare through her glasses: not unkind, just Izzy. Her response was universally understood, without needing any explanation. “Oh god, you’re one of those,” she said, and proceeded to fill me in for a good half hour on the social hierarchy of Deerfield; about kids from New York City and Greenwich and blonde hair and side parts and preppy clothing. About how the tables separated in the dining hall. I’d never met someone like Izzy – honest, opinionated, gutsy, rebellious, and individual. But most of all, she was persuasive. From her first question to me, she questioned me and made me question myself. In that moment I felt translucent, like any excuse I made for being from New York wasn’t enough to undo the unwelcomeness she had already felt and which she assured me I would become a part of. I was an impressionable new kid. She made me want to promise I would never be one of those, whoever they were. As the year progressed I became familiar with how Deerfield worked: where I could sit, and where I was not welcome. I was always welcome at Izzy’s table. Our friendship sprang up around our common dislike of exclusiveness. I think I always needed her more than she needed me, out of a necessity for a constant friendship when I had no friends, for an explanation, for a hug. I would lie on her fuzzy carpeted floor to lament getting a bad grade, how smelly the Karbon’s dog was, and how I wished I knew how to golf. And sometimes I would yell at her about her stupid red alarm clock after she hit snooze eight times, and how I could hear it in my room. But she would peek at me from under her sheets and just give me the look: just a constant, evenly keeled Izzy. What she said to me on that first night changed the way I approached social interaction at Deerfield. She made me cautious; she encouraged me to be different and stand up for what I care about, even if sometimes it meant getting the look. In the two years since I met Izzy, I’ve changed. But I have never forgotten the honest admission of pain from my first real friend at Deerfield. Because of her persuasiveness, her wisdom, and her fearless honesty, I avoided stepping into the trap of becoming someone who only had to do with where I’m from. Deerfield has lost someone great. A pusher, a boundary-breaker, a questioner, a constant. But I can still promise you, Izzy, I will never be one of those.
*This was Charlotte McLaughry’s speech for Izzy at the memorial service.
*Rachel Gibson ’11 and Becky Levy ’11 encourage peers and faculty to sign a book they will send to Izzy’s family, containing a recording of the memorial service. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.