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Friday, July 31, 2009

Life is filled with letting-go-moments. . .another one approaches. . .

A feeling of nostalgia overtakes as I realize that today is the last day of everything. Six weeks seemed like forever when I first came, now I wonder where the days flew to, they weren’t supposed to go so fast. Good friends, acquaintances, and memories march across my mind, obliterating the down times, those times I wanted to go home. A week ago, two weeks ago, I vowed I would never return, now I am planning what I’ll bring with me next summer, anticipating reunions, new experiences, and returning to old haunts. I still remember that first day, half an hour late, a sea of strange faces staring back at me while I struggled to one of the ivory and metal desk-chairs, plugged my laptop in to an outlet, opened up a new Word document, and began to type. Completely out of my comfort zone, surrounded by unknown people, unsure how to handle uncertainty, I soon learned that regardless of where I am, I have the capability to adapt and that the place will quickly become my home. Strangely, this campus, with its people, has grown close to my heart.

I remember discovering Dexter Drumlin, hiking barefoot through marshy grasses, reveling in the freedom to be close to nature. The constant uncommon summer rains kept the humidity at bay that first month while spectacular thunder and lightning shows illuminated my nights, awakening reminiscence of a happy childhood, running barefoot through warm African rain. Lunchtime was a looked-forward-to event of the day, when friendly servers smiled as food that I didn’t have to cook was ladled onto a plastic plate, along with the daily fresh salad in a plastic clamshell.

I soon made friends with my roommate who enjoyed quiet as much as I did, stayed up late, and liked her own space. Joan set up her “office” in the lobby where an overstuffed couch served double duty as a comfy place to nap while I took up residence on my bed where I watched movies online by the hour. On the first day, Heidi caught my attention, a thirty-something Bermudian with a zest for life, an infectious laugh, strong opinions based on personal experiences, an amazing ability to read people, and a sarcastic wit that complimented mine. We had signed up for the same classes and suffered and sighed our way through the homework together, moaning and groaning when extra papers were assigned, relieved when the teacher forgot to bring a key handout to class, and laughing at the idiosyncrasies of our classmates. Sarai, her eight-year old daughter, and I bought identical Wacky Bears, played X and O’s and giggled together. “I like you,” she said one afternoon, as she smiled up in childlike innocence.

One weekend I splurged on a rental car that came with complimentary GPS and the four of us set off through jungles of highways to experience Massachusetts as summer tourists. More exhausting than classes, we packed three days with ferries, islands, tours, and the coast, returning late at night. Unexpected trips to the mall with Rosemary, another classmate, meant I could treat myself to a meal that wasn’t Richard’s fake-meat Loaf or rice with diced veggies from a can. Panera Bread’s sourdough baguette and vegetable minestrone soup became a favourite meal and I stuffed myself silly on boiled eggs, kidney beans, green olives and Thousand Island dressing from Chuck E Cheese’s fresh salad bar.

Hours of bioethical theory filtered through endless games of Solitaire, Minesweeper, Freecell, and Inkball. Break time meant trips to the snack shop where 35 cent mini bags of chips and 10 cent chocolates kept me awake for the final couple of hours and my stomach from grumbling at a scanty hurried breakfast. If I was feeling particularly hungry, I would hurry to the vending machine in the science lab where I would splurge 90 cents on a Reese’s Whipps.

There were the challenging moments that stretched my patience spider-web thin. An unexpected late-July rain sprung open millions of mosquito eggs and clouds hovered in our classroom while vicious females danced and dived, biting on top of still-fresh raised welts. The humidity soared over 90 percent and I resorted to a frozen water bottle to distract me from the thick heavy air. Sleepless nights blurred into each other as I stayed up till after midnight, hoping sheer exhaustion would make me unconscious sooner but to no avail. Class hours were spent in pointless discussions and my mind ached to be challenged academically. I struggled to learn how to work with different personalities and missed the friendly Californian culture. I wanted to go home countless times, yet knew I could not let myself down by refusing to “stick it out.” So I stayed and I learned how to wait for the next day or the next week to bring new experiences.

Life is a tapestry, they say, woven in time. Each memory unites discordant notes, pure melodies, strong chords, sweet tunes, and soul-stirring songs that weave themselves into a harmony of life. Today, as I contemplate the knowledge learned, the moments experienced, the friends formed, and the inner strength discovered, I do not see the difficult times. . .I see the beauty.

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