The whole purpose of life is to get from Point A to Point Z. As I like to say, “You only live until you die,” and death comes to us all. But very rarely do I focus on the journeying. Well, except for in times of transition. And believe me: right now, I’m in a time of extreme transition. Literally and figuratively, that is. I’m on a bus at this moment, headed to San Francisco – but I won’t be staying long. People use terminology like “next year,” “full-time work,” “employment,” and “settling down” just to watch me cringe. I can barely commit to summer plans, let alone promise to see you next November. I’ve adopted a new life motto: “for now.” It basically means “don’t ask me about July, you nimwit” or “yes, I think I’ll still be on this continent tomorrow.” Because this is the graduate life.
That’s right. I’ve gone and graduated college (with honors!). I walked the walk and BS-ed the talk for four short (long?) years that seemed to have both crawled and whizzed right by. Since then, I’ve tossed Canada in the dust behind me and immigrated back to the United States (for now). I’ll be living in Washington, DC, for the summer and interning with the Middle East Institute. My position entails getting iced coffee orders and performing the Dance of the Cardigan, an intricate art inspired by sweltering weather and freezing A/C units. It’s beautiful to behold.
But in the meantime, I’ve been quite busy. Several members of the family came to Vancouver for my graduation ceremony. We took a million photos – me, flaunting my Dementor robe and four-cornered hat; Ma, proud (for now); Pa, calculating the costs of tuition; Rach, calculating how many years until her turn to walk. It’s a beautiful family portrait. In other news, I am the first Zmak in the history of Zmaks to be first. That’s right: I was the very first graduate in my ceremony to cross the stage. Weird, right? I was so turned around that I crossed backwards. Ok, not true, but it was disorienting. (I was actually the only double-major, so they called me up first.)
Then I jetset to Detroit, where I met up with my dear friend Raul for his graduation. Him and I met on Semester at Sea, where I had pinky-promised to visit for his senior clarinet recital. This is a testament to my moral fiber — no one should vacation to Michigan in early May. I’m fairly confident it tried to snow during the outdoor ceremony. However, the trip was a blast, Raul’s performance was top notch, and it was my first experience in a university town. A university town! What a weird concept! It seemed like everything was layered beneath the Michigan “M” (school pride was actually a mind-numbing propaganda). There were M-emblazoned everything; you could buy sock monkeys, underwear, magnets, spatulas, bikinis, cuff links, pottery, slippers, and pompoms with the Michigan logo. If I ever see blue and
yellow maize again, I think my color receptors will fall out of my eyes. (The irony is that my TWU school colors are also blue and yellow.) I think I spent half the trip teasing students about their two-toned wardrobe, while proudly flaunting colors as varied as purple, green, and fuchsia. In sum, Michigan consisted of a lot of laughter. We consumed too much food and drank too much coffee and talked too much. I also tried to learn Spanish and failed (for now).
On an unrelated note, I am not sure my Greyhound bus is going to make it up this hill. I could run up this hill faster (as if!) But the engine gurgle is a nice background noise.
From Detroit I flew to Montreal. Raul took me to the airport at an obscene hour in the morning (6!), which was three hours before my flight. I checked in and cleared security in four minutes. Yeah. Four minutes. That leaves a lot of time for waiting. Let’s just say I drank coffee, took a nap, and abused Pinterest. Montreal was a whirl of a week. I filled a car with my donated belongings. The wandering vagabond cannot be a materialistic nostalgic. So a lot of my stuff had to go. Bye bye, middle school jeans! Let’s be honest: I was 5’4 when I fit them, and those days have come and gone. The Montreal Blitz was also accompanied by trips to Ikea, Mom’s fanatical house renovations (which look so lovely), and a few British murder mysteries.
From Montreal I flew to San Francisco with Mom and Dolly. Dolly is summering at Auntie Lisa’s house. Not only has her old age merited the very best treatment, but she’s a bit terrified of thunder (and by “a bit,” I mean the next boom will probably kill her.) She has been loving her vacation home. My cousin went to the backyard to check on her; he found her little, black, fuzzy body laying still in the sunshine. Concerned that she may have passed through the Pearly Gates, he bent down to hear her fat frying in the heat and see her panting, happy smile. Dolly’s years in Canada could not erase her American affection for sunshine. She is probably the best-off in the family.
Also, on an unrelated note, I just told someone (proudly) that “I graduated from university in Vancouver.”
After a long weekend in Santa Rosa with my maternal female relatives (a long weekend in which we alternated talking, laughing, and eating) and after a celebratory graduation dinner with my paternal relatives (in which we alternated talking, laughing, and eating), my dear, sweet mother drove me into San Francisco at 4:30 in the morning. That is the definition of love. I caught a Greyhound bus to Santa Barbara to see another Semester at Sea friend, Emma.
Of course I had no idea, but it would be a somber weekend to visit UCSB. There was a shooting this on Friday night, which was both alarming, disturbing, and tragic. The rampage happened about five blocks from Emma’s house. Emma had intended to take me down to the main Isla Vista corridor to see the town buzz on a Friday night, but because of the meteor shower we ended up going into the mountains with some of her friends. We watched the sun set on the city and commented on the clouds creeping in to cover the glowing lights. It’s very eerie to reflect on.
Despite the tragedy, her and I had an excellent time in each other’s company. We had lots of random adventures, like listening to Johnny Cash records in the music library, writing poetry in the botanical gardens, getting frozen yogurt in a bathrobe, and careening across cliffs in a VW bus. We went to a spoken word performance, made up our own lasagna recipe, blasted folk music, and ate at the highest-rated breakfast joint in town. It was a weekend well done.
My bus has just finished our stop at a mini-mart for lunch. I was in line to buy a coffee and the man behind me started talking (story of my life. Strangers love me. They see me and say: “Hah! She’s too sweet to be rude.”) I noticed he was missing a tooth, but at least this one did not have a tear drop tattoo. He said, “When your friend was dancing and waving goodbye on the sidewalk, she looked like she was losing her best friend.” I was a little surprised (not that it was very difficult to miss Emma’s interpretive dance on the curb!) and asked if he had seen her car driving beside the bus on the highway. She was playing her own melody on the car horn, so she was hard to miss. He laughed and added, “Friends are crazy.”
And so now here I am, barreling down the interstate highway on a Petri dish of bacteria nicknamed “Greyhound.” I’m San Francisco bound (for now) to stay with family until Saturday.
On an unrelated note, the boy across the aisle hijacked my laptop for thirty minutes. I’ve only just recovered my computer, and now I have a Petri dish of bacteria on my keyboard. He said he needed to message his mom, but he had quite a few windows open. I gave him the eyebrow for a long, long time, but I just got a face twitch and wrinkles. I need to work on my intimidation tactics. Sigh. But this is the graduate life.
Next time I update will probably be in DC. Although, who knows? Maybe it will be from Columbia or the decks of a pirate ship or from a beach in Thailand. It takes me a long time to get around to this thing.