A break in the rush…

Today’s the Ag Sciences Field Day here at sunny (for once) UCD. FFA and 4-H members from all over California (well, considerably more FFA… a sea of blue jackets…) competing on such topics as livestock judging, knowledge contests, public speaking, and a whole lot of other things. In about an hour I’m meeting Ventura County’s team by the assembly hall before the closing assembly.

I’m feeling a bit homesick again. I guess it’s seeing all these high school students, excited about this event, seeing each other, excited about what’s to come. And here I am, in college, looking at them and thinking “what are you going to do after it’s over? what will you do when this membership in the organization, in a group of friends… when it ends? Moving away really does change all the old relationships. The phone and various web applications are good for keeping in touch, but that’s all it is. Fingertips meeting for a few minutes or an hour, but never a real visit. And when I visit home, it’s only for a few days or a week… not long enough to really catch up with things. It’s like the difference between reading a novel and cramming with Cliff’s Notes. There’s a big difference between hearing about things at home and being there to live them. Singing in a choir is one of the bigger-name things that I’ve left behind. There’s such a support network at home, people you’ve grown up with, mentors and family and friends that you don’t even think about most days because they’ve always been there and you think they’ll always be there. When you don’t run into them in the grocery store or out walking downtown, the absence is tiny but it’s definitely there. It’s not that I don’t want to grow up, it’s that I don’t want to leave all the friendships and daily hello’s behind. I could live on my own in my hometown and still have all the relationships. It’s just hard to live on my own in a new place with very few connections. I’m trying to put down roots but it’s like sand here. Just starting out, it’s hard to make the roots stick very well.

I was talking with Tristan about this a week or so ago. With these people that we’ve grown up knowing, we don’t have to retell stories. When we do, it’s to relive memories. They were there when we went crazy and did crazy things with our friends, and even if they weren’t actually there, they’ll know who we’re talking about. I moved away, and I no longer have that frame of reference. When I tell a story, I have to explain who I was with and where we were and describe every inch of it so that the new friends understand. It gets so cumbersome that it’s not worth all the prep work to tell the story. So I have to make new stories with the new friends.
Like the night that Sara and I went to watch Heather play IM basketball in the rec hall. It wasn’t watching Heather play that made it fun. It was wandering lost through the hall looking for a ping pong table, then climbing on the exercise bikes and learning how to program them, and then when the game was over… not going home right away. We played ping pong in the dorm’s little rec room, got fruit drinks at the convenience store there, and then went out to meet the cows. Being UCD, there’s a dairy next to the Tercero dorms. So we went out with the cows, laughing and giggling and just being there in the moment. Not worrying about tests or papers or if we’re really making the right choices. Just being there in the moment.
Or the night last quarter when Tiger and I met up in the dining commons (DC), went to the alcohol-free Associated Students party, came home, and talked till 1 AM. Not someone I knew previously, just a friend of my roommate, and we just stayed there in the moment talking and laughing. And when we broke away from it, it was 1 AM and time to sleep.

Here, it’s such a pressure cooker that we can’t just relax and be in the moment. We’re always looking ahead to the next paper, the next test, the next year, where we’re going to live, whether we’ll get into vet school, whether we should give it all up and major in drama and music and kissing responsibility goodbye… and yet we’re here to learn how to be adults. I think it’s easier for the ones who are just an hour or two from home. When you’re 6 or 8 hours away, it’s hard to maintain the life at home and the life at school. All the news from home is filtered, to soften the blow or simply by lack of time to tell it all. The human attention span is only so long, and it’s hard to remember everything that you want to say AND to fit it into a normal conversation. I guess normal conversations go by the wayside when you’re away. So much time is spent on “how are the pets? how’s soandso? When is the concert?” that we never have time to just be together and talk philosophical things like life and happiness and gossip. The real gossip, not just who is how old and how broke. To tell stories. To think together.

I suppose this isn’t really a rant, just diarrhea of the typing fingers. Part of it is that although it’s the first day of March (and I will be 19 on the 19th… something that I have awaited for 19 years)… it’s still winter. And it’s hard not to think these things in winter. I guess it’s the common Seasonal Affective Disorder, but I’ve always been this kind of introvert. I’m looking forward to coming home for visits. I like having friends around me. Real friends, not just the people I study with (study? who studies? when?) — friends that I can talk to about things beyond this professor or that test. People who know my stories.

~ by jackelopette on March 1, 2003.

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