mid break

This morning I left the sunny Atlanta and was greeted with a 20 degree drop in temperature and lots of snow Cle. As I left the plane, a blast of cold air welcomes me back to the good old Cleveland. I stood in the cold waiting for my gate-checked bag and I knew I was not in Atlanta anymore.

The days in Atlanta were spent between spending time with mom, Han, and being a lazy bum in general. My outings consist mainly of battling my way through the endless traffic around Mall of Ga and cozying up in a comfy chair at a corner of B&N or digging an ever bigger hole into my bank account at the adjacent stores. Life at home was pleasantly slow, cold, and full of yummy food. For xmas eve, we invited our neighbors over and had hotpot and made spring rolls, lamb kabobs, and finished off with an amazing cake to die for 🙂 It ended with the three of us (me, mom, and Han) watching Road to Perdition (not the typical Xmas movie, but it was good anyway :).

Post xmas was the typical outlet shopping, and then the three of packing and leaving in a roll; starting with Han on the 27th and ending with my mom who’s on her way back to China as I’m typing this. I still hate leaving and being left. I will probably never get used to it no matter how many times I go through it. The only consolation is that as time move on, I get closer to seeing them again.

When I arrived in my dad’s apartment, my first thought was the appalling amount of dust that has gathered on my furniture. The room really looked like it has not been lived in for a year. So I spent couple of hours cleaning up the room and unpacking. Once the room looked the way I remembered it, I suddenly something…or rather someone, was missing. Memories of last Christmas and Han are still hanging in the air, but he’s not here. It’s amazing stubbornly people and things ingrain themselves upon your memories and your life.

But there are new places to go, new people to meet, and new memories to make. This break has been a good one thus far and I know the second half will be just as good. I look forward to seeing the friends that I haven’t seen since last break, starting tomorrow.

I don’t think I will ever learn

 to say goodbye. no matter how many times I do it, I’m never very good at it. The amount of gravity and emotions involved is never quite right. It’s always either too nonchalant or too teary. How do I strike that perfect balance? How many times must I say goodbye to master this skill perfectly?

If I could choose, I’d choose to never say those words ever again. But that’s not gonna happen.

I have been very lucky to have been here, despite of everything. More than the buildings, the attractions, the so called ‘cultural experience’, the most memorable thing that I shall bring home with me is your friendship. 

Nostalgic

I like catching up with old friends. I’m not terribly good at keeping in touch with friends; most of the times, I simply don’t feel the desire to talk to most people. Then there are moments when it suddenly hits me that I haven’t talked to so and so for a very long time. It’s always good when I do start a conversation with these friends and realize halfway through that even though much has changed, we still have the same chemistry as before. It reminds me that no matter how much we change, deep inside, we remain more or less the same people that we’ve always been. Of course, if you allow too much time to lapse without any form of contact, the gap might be too large to bridge. No one should expect anyone to still care about someone that they have no spoken to in a year or longer, but it’s always a pleasant surprise when they do and you pick up exactly where you left off (sorta).

That’s one thing about having been in a lot of places. I have all these different groups of friends, people I met at different times and places of my life. Friends from childhood, from China, from colorado, from Atlanta, from Solon, from Duke, from beijing, from Greece, from oxford, and now from London. Unfortunately I haven’t been able very good with keeping in contact with half of the friends I’ve made, either due to laziness or mere carelessness. But I don’t want that to be the case anymore. It’s not easy to make friends, and even if it is (which has surprisingly been the case for me in london), I still believe friendships are precious and should never be taken lightly or for granted. I’m someone who could never live alone, and I derive such a significant amount of happiness and meaning in life from my relationships with people. 

Hmm…i have no idea how I ended up talking about friends…. What I wanted to do was merely remarking on looking through pictures from the past two years and reminiscing. I like to look back on my life and pick out the brighter moments and savour the happy memories. There’s something very alluring to nostalgia, it’s almost like reliving the past, but in a very selective and indulgent way. The painful segments are no longer painful enough to make you cry, but the happy ones can still make you smile. Ultimately, it makes me much more optimistic about the future. Or maybe I’m just in an optimistc mood.

Between a rock and a hard place

So now that I’m told it’ll be perfectly fine for me to return to Duke early, I’m suddenly unbelievably sad just thinking about leaving my friends here. It has almost been a miracle how quickly I’ve made so many friends here and how awesome they really are. I feel like I’m just getting to know them and now I have to say goodbye. The genuine disappointment I saw on their face when I told them of the possibility of not coming back was quite heartbreaking. And yet I could not dwell too much on the thought too much and had to try my best to focus on my reasons for leaving…because if I really thought for a moment of leaving, I might have broken down into tears right there in the cafeteria. 

Funny how it was so difficult for me to decide whether to come here in the first place. Who would have thought I would be having just as a hard time half year later trying to decide whether to leave or not. My reasons for leaving are good enough. Law school is my top priority, so of course I should go back to Duke and raise my GPA and take lsat prep classes. Intellectually speaking, I wouldn’t really miss anything by leaving. Most of the things I learn here I can learn at Duke, in a much more intense and condensed manner. Even London, I can always come back. The monuments and the city is not going anywhere, nor would they change very much. That leaves my friends, or more precisely, time with them…something I’ll never be able to get back. Sure there’s IM, skype, and the entire internet plus phone for long distance communication, but I think I know quite well by now how far they are from real-time, face-to-face interactions. 

I can imagine my life back at Duke quite well. I’ll be once again stressed about classes on a regular basis. There’ll be loads of papers and reading. I will feel pressure and I will challenged. And I will be back to my old friends (at least most of them). There’ll be LSAT and GRE prep courses, or at least lots of practices. I won’t feel left out when I see tagged pictures of my friends at performances and parties. I’ll be photographing dances again. Ultimately, I’ll have the old life back again, sort of.

But I’ll miss having my own room. I’ll miss having dozens of cafes and restuarants to choose from for lunch. I’ll miss playing bridge every other day. I’ll miss my econ history class, and I’ll miss my philosophy of social science class. I won’t miss the constant traffic conjestion, or the claustrophobic feeling in this city. I won’t miss waiting forever for the elevator every day for class, or having to squeeze through Houghton street every day. But yes, I will miss my life here and especially my friends.

I feel pulled in two directions. My friends back at Duke are telling me how much they miss me and to come back. My friends here are telling me how much they will miss and don’t go. So I’m stuck with yet another hard decision where no matter what I choose, I have to make some sacrifices. In the end, I can’t have everything. That’s life, they say, but that doesn’t make it any easier to swallow.