Friday, June 1, 2012

Times they are a-changin'

I have nothing interesting to write about today. However, that has nothing to do with today not being exciting.

Just a while ago (since I'm writing this in the afternoon), I had my last journalism class of the quarter. We went over our projects in front of the room (public speaking is not my forté, but it felt great to finish up this course with an awkward description of my final project), we ate Corner Bakery delicacies (mmm a greasy, buttery croissant) and we commiserated and celebrated our wonderful (and dastardly) quarter reporting in a "diverse community."

It wasn't until just now that I realized that my quarter is pretty much over. Yes, I have my last official class in two hours. Yes, I have a final paper due by 5 pm tomorrow in my professor's mailbox. Yes, I still haven't packed anything. And yes, I still haven't come to grips with the fact that in just a few days I'll be leaving this room - my room - for good.

Right now it's raining outside and I think that's sort of appropriate for the kind of emotions I'm feeling right now. I love the rain. Aside from the overstated love of the Woody Allen "I love the rain. It washes memories off the sidewalk of life" reference, I think the sound, the feeling, the scent of rain falling on the pavement below is something utterly beautiful and tragic.

The first time I landed at Heathrow Airport in London it was raining. It rained during my favorite visit to Disneyland in the history of my life. On my trip to Kiyomizu-dera in Kyoto, Japan - one of my favorite destinations in the world - it rained and rained and rained. And it rained on the day my mother passed away.

For me, the rain is associated with fond and terrible memories. For someone who hates getting their hair wet or sloshing around in wet shoes, it's a terrible inconvenience. But it's also something I absolutely can't get enough of.

I love walking around and listening to my iPod playlist made exclusively for the rain. I enjoy hearing the sound of the droplets of water rat-a-tat-tatting on the top of my umbrella. There's something distressing and yet inherently comforting about the sound of rain. It reminds you of comfort and warmth even though it's wet and cold.

So as I leave this year off, with only a few days left at school and none of them too filled with events or stress, it's a pleasant reminder to have the rain - that dichotomy of good and bad - beating against my windowsill.

Still, I'm reeling with excitement over my return to California.

This morning, I woke up thinking about Disneyland. "By this time next week, I'll have driven on the 91 and the 5 to get the Happiest Place on Earth from my house." There's nothing I'm looking forward to more than being reunited with Disney.

But I felt incredibly sad at the same time. And I realized that my inner conflict was due to the fact that I have two such beautiful lives that are so unluckily separated by thousands of miles.

At school, I have a set of great friends. My room, my dorm, my life is comfortable here. We always have a steady plan for mealtimes and for homework times and for fun times. Even the moments that are stressful are made better by the fact that there's such a great community of people here.

At home, I have an equally great set of friends. Though we don't live together, we see a lot of each other over breaks and we spend all the time that we're not together trying to plan out when we'll see each other next. Home is the time for costume dress-up parties and baking desserts. It's for watching weird movies and forgetting what the term "homework" means.

Like the rain, my life is made up of two very distinct parts. But unlike the rain, neither of them is negative.

I could never choose which life I enjoy better. When I'm at home, I miss my school life. When I'm at school, I miss my home. I can never have everything that I could ever need or want.

So maybe the real relationship with the rain is the fact that there's good and bad to my dichotomous life. The good is that I have such wonderful experiences wherever I go. The bad is that I can never have all of my wonderful experiences at the same time.

I'm ending this quarter on a great note. I've had a good time in my classes. I've cultivated close friendships with so many people. I've gotten over stints of depression and sadness throughout the quarter to arrive at a state of stability in happiness.

I hope that at home I can find the same joy rather than the opposite side of the rain.

For the next few days I'll have a wide range of responsibilities. From packing up all my belongings to figuring out what I want to leave in Chicago or ship back home. From saying goodbye to friends to saying hello to others. From finishing up old chores to starting up new ones.

There will be infinite ends and infinite beginnings.

Tomorrow, when my dad comes into town, for the first time I'll be integrating him into my campus life. If only for a few hours, he'll get a glimpse into what a typical Friday night is like for his silly, non-partying, theater-loving daughter.

I can't wait. Because for once, this will be my two worlds coming together rather than pulling me apart. It's the cusp between ending and starting again.

Just like my story, I can't seem to find a firm way to end this post. Because in a way, it's structured by the fact that in a few days I'll be starting up back in California with new experiences.

So let's just say it's not over. Nothing's over. It's just that things are changing - everything has two sides. And that doesn't have to be a bad thing.

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