Wednesday, October 24, 2012


The itch has come again, and I must scratch - I cannot sleep until I get this out of my head.

I feel this imperative again to write, for whoever wishes to read, but mostly for a selfish reason, for the future me to remember what it feels like to be in college and not to have only the sentimental gumbo of cliched recollections to hold onto when I recall my early days, but for a bit of that passion and nowness to be pinned it down with my words. I will do the best I can.

The college experience is like a pitcher, filling up with droplets of days, that flow into weeks, into semesters, into solid years broken up in between with summers both languid and professional (early years and later years). People tend to describe college with the taste they remember when it outflows from the pitcher - a mix of the bitter and the sweet, the common and the extraordinary, the personal and the group, whichever they chose to identify with. But what's important to remember is that that's not really how it happened - there wasn't a narrative to begin with, or a story I set out meaning to tell - every day has a routine, but it also held the promise of something mind-blowing to be learned, or a conversation to bloom into a friendship. It holds the prospect of spontaneous decisions to go to an event in the evening or eat with this friend and not another or spend all night in the library.

The memories that flow from the pitcher are smooth, well-mixed, in equilibrium, the sweet balancing out the bitter and all glossed over with the numbing taste of nostalgia. But my days are not all moderately sunny, they are sometimes blindingly bright and sometimes gloomy, some days I don't remember at all because I was too sleepy to pay attention, some days I conquer the world, some days I have no idea. And many, many days I fluctuate between those extremes. Sometimes the enormity of it all, contrasted with my small, small brain, brings me to tears - like now. Even a semester is too long a timespan to describe my emotional/mental state and growth, there are constant switchbacks and setbacks and spurts of understanding. A linear narrative of progress and growth may be appealing. It works on applications, it works to create a pretty package for evaluation. But in my experience, it is untrue.

So then...what is this time that I have been through? What is my last word, having rejected the generic smoothie-like 'best of times worst of times' version of the college story?

The truth is...I don't know. I feel dimly even as I go through my day and check off lists that don't matter a week from now (and I have kept a day calendar for every year I have been here, it's necessary) that the people I meet and things I read and listen to are planting seeds in me that may take years to show fruit. It's coalescing somewhere deep and unconscious and someday it's going to sprout in totally unexpected ways. And some things are just fun and I enjoy them intensely at this moment but will forget them very soon. Some things are not fun, and I forget them as soon as I can (this includes several of my classes, honestly).

But most of all I want to remember the people, people who have touched my life in these past three years in so many ways - teachers, peers, bosses, co-workers and those random people you meet and have a great conversation with for a while. I want to remember them crystal clear as the people they were and the hopes and dreams they had, and honestly I hope I remember the good more than the bad because life is too short to be uncharitable. But more than that, I hope to see them as more than still figures captured in photos - I hope to keep meeting them throughout my life, speaking with them, following these lives that have touched mine and see how their college pitchers overflow into the lives they are leading now - and how it hasn't.

I have hope that this may actually come true (as so many of my more lofty goals have not) precisely because we (those fortunate enough to have the opportunity to spend four years of live free of adult responsibilities in a ridiculously privileged and sheltered environment) enshrine college as that sacred moment in our lives, something fond to be remembered. I harbor hopes that these people I meet will actually want to keep in touch with me as well. My paths,even the ones I rejected due to time or expediency or laziness, continue to pulse, and they will be possibilities in some form or another till the day I die. College as a defined period of my life will soon be over, but college as a shared state of mind, a collective pitcher memory that bonds those far separated by passing years and interests, is something I can access for the rest of my life. And that's what college means to me.

My S side needs to remember concrete facts about senior year

Experiences I want to remember about senior year so far (chronological order):

1) I-place Orientation for a week (Gangnam Style! Party on the last night. New friends from all the colleges. Deep conversations. Eating in the village. Being the most experienced class of students - a strange feeling indeed.)

2) Sara/Mandy/Joanie's birthday (Shopping at the 99 cents store. Kool-aid vodka drinks.)

3) Going to the LA County Fair with Ji Su, Daisy and Ei.

4) Nocturnal Wonderland. Above and Beyond. Feeling limitless and utterly content, lying on the grass/carpet outside a tent with Rachit.

5) Halona with ISMP. Lying on the street at 3am, watching the night sky, nearly getting run over by a car whose headlights we saw coming just in time.

6) J visiting for a weekend ++. Santa Monica, movies, good times.

7) Yosemite for fall break. Great people, and majestic scenery. Realization of unfitness as proven by sore legs day after.

And all this, in the first 9 weeks of term. And with my future (almost) set in terms of where I'll be for the next two years, this year is looking up.