In the Mind
And now it hits me. I am not in a happy cloud no more. Not that there was a fight or a dramatic altercation but just seeing off a friend back to NY triggered it. And I look around with unseeing eyes, realizing that I don't understand a word of what is being spoken around me... and I want to go home. But then this is home too, the loved one's abode, the one we or rather Ikea built together. But the bathroom doesn't look into the backwoods of nowhere anymore. Rather confused, very disoriented, and extremely nostalgic am I. Its the repercussion of a loss of feeling for the past 3 weeks, and its come in a torrent of emotional outburst.
Till now every change has been just when needed. Exciting and bursting with promise. This one change was needed for the longest time, took enough time for fruition, yet is a shock. Very unexpected turn of events but not when I think about it. Its been 6 years at a place, where a self did everything. The renting, the bills, teaching undergrads, self-study, making friends, having parties and night-outs, realizing the meaning of research, carrying on inspite of dissapointing results, personal and professional setbacks notwithstanding, the shoulders were set and proud. The independence heady and undistilled. To know that is to believe. And once the challenge faced is over with, its on with the new. But set in a life with the friends to match, its hard to start from scratch all over again. Maybe its called aging :) maybe its called not starting work soon enough, or maybe its not giving enough time, or maybe the challenge is not faced yet. Whatever it is... today is for nostalgia. Finally being able to feel what all I left back in NY, what I will miss, and how much the 6 years contributed to the 'me'.
Somehow feelings are always pushed back whenever there is change, there is too much to be done. Transitions from school to college (so welcome, even the treks from JNU to North campus were worth it, the first freedom of being allowed out late in the night), college to masters in Bombay (fell in love with the city, living away from home the first time, meeting K, my secret dream of going to classes in chappals, nbdu evenings, Powai lake at sunset), and then the jump to USA. First night in a dorm room without light, orientation, registration, the typical PhD student start, all in the hope that K will come soon. And then, the first glimpse of NYCity coming out of Penn Station and gasping in awe, the country bumpkin me with a crick in the neck at the end of the day, exotic tastes on the tongue, and a sense of the world contained in a city. Head turning exhiliration, and the promise to myself that I will enjoy this city till the day I have to leave. And I did, so I should have no regrets, then why? No amount of analyzing works. Just wish I could spend another weekend summer night at the Union Square again. Lots of things happened - K's visa issues, marriage in between, PhD troubles, the end of troubles and beginning of results, great times with Graz, the trips back and forth Europe meeting K, the Frankfurt decision, and through it all, a solid home in Cold Spring Harbor. All troubles dissapeared as soon as one came in through the door, my old-attic style rooms, sloping roofs et al, the charm of 200 years within the walls, with friendly ghosts and graveyard stones. White-washed walls with carved wood details, knobbly posts and just heart-wringing warmth. The companions within (Graz,HH,YW,LT) in harmony, loads of fun, enthusiastic and not-so enthusiastic dinners, the omni-welcoming couch and TV, the hamster on its wheel, and nonsensical yet so-satisfying conversations.. and in the meantime, research in one of the friendliest yet competitive places ever, with a support and facilities system that keeps it thriving the way it does. Familiar faces that greet every morning, the warmness of knowing you belong(ed) there and hence the familiarity, the routine jobs and the new experiments, urges of discussing data with people you know, relevance of their suggestions without the motive of showing up smart. All these building of relationships take time, each one is precious and its hard to say goodbye. But faces change, they come and go - the students and the post-docs, and in a few years there will be less and less people known in that familiar place as well. Its good to move on. Change pushes you to move on.
Beyond the past is the future, and the 'now'. So what can be made of it... learning the language, already I can feel the smiles on the streets, searching for the best food markets, getting a train pass and a schedule for work, cleaning this mess of a house filled with what seems to be only my clothes and shoes, finishing that last paper, and getting ready to welcome the new developments in this life with open arms and a wide smile... yes, I guess its time.