Beautiful in Any Language
globe-trotting, music-loving, multilingual michelle hamilton speaks well for march
Though she's already savored the pleasures of Mexico, Hawaii and Japan, 19-year-old Michelle ("Mike") Hamilton continues to suffer happily from a severe case of wanderlust. "I'm sure I'm half nomad," explains the cinnamon-eyed Angeleno. "I never want to stop traveling." Currently trying to curb her migratory urges long enough to complete her freshman year at Pasadena City College, Mike finds that horseback riding, excursions to isolated beaches and long hikes into the hills beyond the city provide the sort of alfresco therapy she needs to keep her at the books and away from a suitcase. Taking a guitar on many of her jaunts -- she's an accomplished musician and writes her own songs in the folk tradition -- our March Playmate loves to musically daydream in solitary places. But Michelle is a self-admitted creature of many moods who hardly qualifies for hermit status. "When I was in high school," she reminisces, "I never missed a weekend at the Strip. The crowds were great -- it was like being in the middle of a tropical garden -- and the music at Pandora's Box was too much. It used to nearly turn me inside out." Lately, however, the demands of school have made her abandon the plastic fun and chrome-plated charisma of the Strip. Already fluent in Spanish, our multilingual Playmate is a language major at PCC and moonlights several afternoons a week at Berlitz, where she's enrolled in an intensive course in conversational German. The academic pace makes spare time a precious commodity and Michelle is likely to use it by taking in a movie with a date, folk singing with friends or enjoying a busman's holiday by reading a good book -- which in her catholic definition means anything from the anguished novels of Dostoievsky to the fanciful works of Tom Wolfe. As a result of last summer's trip to Japan, Mike is also a haiku fan and occasionally dabbles in verses of her own: "It helps me understand myself better, but I wouldn't want to be a writer."
Miss March thinks she'd rather combine her love of travel with her linguistic bent and become a United Nations interpreter. Toward that end, more language courses and a summer visit to Germany are on her immediate agenda -- although she's lived near Hollywood's dazzling lights long enough to think wistfully of a career in the movies (she's presently part of a drama workshop at PCC). "I sometimes fantasize myself into great movies, such as Doctor Zhivago and Blow-Up," she says dreamily. "But I do recognize the realities of life -- most girls would consider themselves lucky if they could get into Dr. Bikini Meets the Radioactive Surf Monster, much less quality films. I'm going to keep acting and I'd like to study drama, but I'll be quite happy if I can work at the U.N." We're sure you'll agree that Hollywood's loss is the world's gain.
Photography by Bill Figge and Ed DeLong