“I’m tired but resolute; that I’d rather be striving than settled, Oh I’d rather be, moving than static.
Oh I’d rather be by your side.”
It’s Sunday. Tomorrow is Monday. That’s how days of the week work, so I’ve been told. Tomorrow’s a big day. Back home, it’s graduation day. Four years ago, I would’ve told you that it would be my graduation day, but life intervened and I listened. But tomorrow’s a big day here, too. Tomorrow I’ll wear my backpack (under 30 kg, I hope) instead of a cap and gown, and I’ll be grab hold of a plane ticket and custom forms instead of a diploma. Tomorrow, I pack up and go home.
I think about that alternate year, sometimes, because the prospect of IHP was the reason I almost stayed enrolled. In that alternate universe, I’m sitting on campus reading Marina Keegan’s Opposite of Loneliness, tying up loose ends in the form of wandering around dark streets with a bottle of wine wondering where the last four years had gone. Instead, I’m in Bolivia. Ebba is asleep with a copy of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. My computer charger keeps sizzling because my $8 converter from Vietnam broke. My bags are half-packed, but my heart overflowing. If I’d stayed “on track,” if I’d pushed myself to graduate “on time,” I wouldn’t know these 30 faces (and the three outfits associated with each of them). Sure, I’d have known different faces, held different hands, laughed different laughs, but it wouldn’t be this group, precisely. As sad as I am to say goodbyes tomorrow, when I think of how this semester very easily could’ve never happened just as it did, I know that what tears I’ve shed have been ones of joy and gratitude. I’m in Bolivia, writing and wondering, where did the last four months go?
San Francisco was just yesterday…Trader Joe’s trips and biking up and down the hills, the terror of snapped brakes, swimming in the cold bay water, the never-ending Bay model. We were in Vietnam this morning…iced coffee and karaoke, hiking Bach Ma and biking the rice fields in Hoi An. And didn’t we just have lunch in Morocco? Abdo called us all together for tagine and khobs and oranges to calm the hanger on the patio in Ben Smim. We played thirty rounds of Oh Hell as we digested. Our adorable Bolivian host families picked us up this evening at the Cocha airport; we still have another three days to spend splashing naked at Los Toucanes, don’t we?
Hardly. In a mere 46 hours, I’m gonna land in New York…in 48 hours I’ll be pulling up to my house and ringing the doorbell…in 60 hours I’ll be riding my bike to Blue State for an iced latte before work.
It doesn’t seem possible, but then again, none of this did.
The nonstop travel, on bumpy roads in uncomfortable buses, sometimes hungover, the altitude, the salmonella, the afternoon lectures, the crowded ‘M,’ the contradictions, the group photos under blazing suns, the stupid number of plastic water bottles we consumed (see: contradictions), the lost toenail, the dozens of dong/dirhams/Bs spent on hot chocolate in exchange for wifi–it was such a small IHPrice to pay for all the cool shit we got to do together. Tomorrow is the end of our (first) intimate trip–we might not text about our bowel issues after tomorrow (but who knows, we might). The future, as we know, is behind us, unseeable and unknowable. It’s a scary thing. But now that I know all of you, I know that your 60 hands are out there, grappling, climbing, pouring coffee, turning pages, tapping on desks, raising questions–probably about funding, or gender, or hydroelectricity–and I feel a whole lot better. Thanks to each of you for being precisely and unapologetically you. May these next hours, and the years they lead to, be, in the words of our favorite Hue bar, never sad and always funs.
With so much love,
Shattered & Hollow — First Aid Kit (1st quote in post)
Ruminant Band — Fruitbats
Save Tonight — Eagle Eyed Cherry (throwback. fitting)
Rivers And Roads — The Head and the Heart