Monday, April 23, 2012

Thoughts Instead of Studying.

I am sitting here, my mind heavy with knowledge it can't quite absorb and reeling from pressure and stress that accompanies an academic lifestyle.  I click through old pictures, and your face appears, leading me down a new thread of thought.

My how things have changed.

My how we have grown.

There are miles and miles behind me from the person I was when we met - awkward and untamed and fighting blindly just to survive in a world I was unsure of.  There are years, so many more years than I'd realized, between you and these images.  Skinnier, younger, less secure. I forgot about the cowlick you had, right on the top of your head, that made your hair go crazy.  Why do we notice these things?  Or rather, why do I?  After all, I can't speak for what anyone else sees. . .

There is so much I'm not prepared for on this test.  I need to not procrastinate, the night won't get any younger. . .

Both of us smile, frozen in time as megapixels and data.  These pictures exist nowhere else but on our computers, drifting in an endless sea of binary code, our younger selves reduced to less than photostock.  We're a blur, only a simple digital blur. The soft blush color of my cheeks isn't the glow of early teenage years, but the careful combination of zeros and ones and dots until an image forms; the same is true of your disheveled hair and laughing face.

A click and we're gone again.

There are forty more slides still to go.  Why must the powerpoints be so long?  I hate spending my time locked to this screen.

I wonder who we'll be ten years from now.  Will there be a baby on someone's hip?  A new city beneath their feet?  Will we still find a way, somehow, to each other through the impossibilities that life brings to our friendship?  Will you be happy, then?  Will I?  And where will these current selves be - stored digitally thanks to social media, somewhere in the great Other where neither of us can truly erase the file?

Stored as memories shuffled carefully away with our younger selves?

Will this version of me as I am now eventually become nothing more than a digital echo and the vague impression that you once held someone's warm hand against your own cupped palm?

I am so tired.  My eyelids are heavy and my heart feels funny, as it always does when these strange reflective moods come over me.  I don't think I am old enough to think this way.  Am I?

When I am honest I realize I don't miss the old us - not the younger, less secure, more difficult you.  Not the frightened, breakable, naive me.  I am much happier with the confidence we've both managed to find though we both know it is sometimes hollow.  Hollow is good - hollow can be filled.  I think of it less as a shell and more as an outline, where the potential can still be reached.  We now have lines to color in.  And what lines they are.  The line of your shoulder is thicker, broader.  The spread of your stance more confident, taking up more floor when you enter a room.  You've learned to own your space.  Quiet confidence suits you.

I on the other hand am still a smudge: a smudge of emotions and thoughts and ideas and colors, a moving blur like a photograph not properly exposed, that person in the back who didn't quite stay still when the photographer said "three."  My energy and motion have a direction, now, a goal other than "Away.  Run away."  This is growth, though it is not the solidifying you've done - if anything I am blurrier and busier than ever.  But I think my colors are richer, too.

I really have to tear myself away.  There is nothing in these pictures that will help you learn what you need to know, girl.  Stop looking at them as though they'll help.

So many things have changed.  Why am I noticing them now?  How disjointed and jumbled all these thoughts will seem in the morning.  How silly I feel even now thinking them to myself.  I wonder if I will have the courage to hit the little orange "publish" button in the top corner of this snow white page, the courage to commit this image of myself too.  To press it, like a dried flower in the pages of a scrapbook, into the time capsule of myself the internet provides.

I think I will.  After all, it's just binary code and digital dreams, right?

Back to the books I go. . . 

Monday, April 16, 2012

Exciting. Scary. Overwhelming. Wonderful.

Hello dear friends!

I have an announcement to make, and some news to share: I hope upon reading it you will be understanding of my lapses in blogposts, or how rarely I've emailed you, or perhaps that long gap between phone calls.  As long as I can remember, I have been Busy.

Yes, with a capital B.  Working several jobs (even as a young teen, helping to keep the family business afloat) and studying dance and this and that and so on and so forth.  Coming to college hasn't been any different: I work somewhere between 2 and 4 jobs depending on the season, and take 8-11 classes at a time, and perform in shows and the shows I don't perform in, I work to gain tech experience.  Then there is my never ending parade of injuries (possibly made worse by my rampant business and utter disregard for my body's need of sleep).

And now. . . now I am in a position to see it all pay off.  Last week I went into a mandatory group advising session, where my advisor oversees all of her students as we select our course load for the upcoming semester.  I was excited to be heading in to select my classes for senior year - and my head was full of all the usual thoughts.  Where had the last three years gone?  Was I already about to be a senior?  How much would I have to work extra to start saving up for moving/loans/etc?  Would all the classes I wanted to take fit in my schedule?  What about the ones I had to take because they're required your senior year and you simply must do it?  And maybe most importantly would I finally have a semester without daily 8am classes?

As I started flipping through the course booklets and filling in my academic classes around my dance levels, I noticed how easy it was. . . how much time and room.  Filling in my theatre classes and the schedule started to look more crowded.  Thats when my advisor cheerfully asked if I still intended to graduate early?  As in, December?

Well ladies and gentlemen, that had never been my plan.  I've spent every course registration frantically jamming as many classes into my schedule as I possibly could so that I could graduate as my school's first double major in Dance and Theatre.  I didn't know - and neither did the faculty or the department heads - if it could be done at all, let alone in only four years.  And here I was in the middle of a group advising session with a little box in front of me to check off.  A single smudge of graphite across carbon paper would be enough - all it takes to confirm. Yes, it could be done.  Yes, I'd done it.  And a semester early, too.  Three college degrees in 3 1/2 years.  I'd have to take a massive number of credits, of course, and pay the credit overages.  And I'd need special clearance from the Dean of the Dance Department and the head of the Theatre Department and the President of Academic Affairs and probably Moses himself was going to have to come down and sign my damn transcript.  But it could be done.

And you know what?  I'm doing it.  I pressed the soft silvery tip of the pencil into the page with a hand I was surprised wasn't shaking.  I texted my mother and called Boyfriend and texted my big brother, and I honestly don't remember a word of what anyone said. What I do remember is walking out into the hallway and turning the corner, my huge messenger bag slung over my shoulder, a stunned smile painted over my lips, and almost smacking into my friend Jake.  I nearly burst into tears at that moment.

See, Jake is the first friend I made on this campus.  We met at 8am in our first college class, a miserably boring 100 level english class with a teacher we loathed (charming kids right?).  We're sort of an odd pair: ambitious, hardworking, good grades.  Make our advisor crazy because we take more classes than we're supposed to and bend the rules to suit academic visions only the two of us see.  We've done everything short of using an actual time turner to accomplish everything on our To Do Lists.  And this semester we had our final class together - another English class, with the same professor, in the same classroom.  The only difference this time is he was leaving early - graduating in December.  I was still going to be here . . . but not anymore.  I didn't even have to tell him what had happened.  He asked if I'd come from my Advising session and I nodded my head, willing my lead tongue to work, to not just stare like a mute - and then his face lit up in a grin and he opened his arms and I barreled head long into a bear hug that crushed my ribs and lifted my feet off the floor and finally pried a joyful laugh out of my stunned self.  We had done it.

We were leaving in December - heading into a world wider than my smalltown mind can conceive, more brilliant than I understand, harder, colder, crueler than I'll know what to do with.  But it's our world - the doers and the dreamers and the ones who push and stick just one toe over the edge to see if maybe there is something on the other side.