Thursday, May 14, 2009

Dear Jon-Boy (a breakup letter to Texas)

Dear Jon-Boy,

I'm breaking up with you. I'm just done. I was driving on the loop around Abilene today and looked out to my left over the breathtaking nothingness that stretches to the south, and that was the final straw. I'm breaking up with you for good.

We've had a companionable three years together. At first, we were roommates of convenience, two strangers thrown together for a specific purpose and a specific, finite time. For the most part we drove each other nuts. You'd play your country twang, I'd groove to Neil Young and Hendrix. I'd long for eucalyptus and redwoods and you offered me mesquite "trees" and killer allergies. We'd hang out every once in a while, but that was mostly just so neither of us would have to eat alone. Come the weekends, we'd make a definite split in our own directions: you went to the two-step bars, I went to whatever small speck of nature I could find.

Somewhere along the way, though, it changed. I think it was the weekend we went to Junction to jump into the river. I gotta tell you, Texas, that weekend you were beautiful. The water was that unearthly, milky blue that always reminds me of Woolite. The sky was expansive and intricate. The rocks were bleached white; the plants were alien and interesting; the land, open and quiet. Even the chosen activity, cliff jumping, was new and exhilarating. I realized then, as I realize now, that since the "cliff" was more of a 15-foot river bank, even this experience was watered down and what we outsiders call "good for Texas," but at the time I was hungry for anything.

After that, we started a strained relationship. I knew I could never stay with you, and you knew I was always living with one eye toward the horizon, but it worked for a time. It's ironic: in this metaphor, I'm the tumbleweed. I was restless, but you were there, offering what comforts you could. Even those comforts strangled me, though. I was grateful for what peace I could achieve here, but I didn't want to be at peace. I didn't want you to be my home. I conceded my license plate -- it seemed the least I could do after two years living together -- but I hated you every second. To be fair, you have given me some wonderful people; I love my school and all the people I've met here. I don't think it's any mistake, though, that most of the people I feel most comfortable with aren't from here and aren't like you at all. We gave what we could to each other, but it was never enough, and we both knew it never would be.

I don't hate you as I once did, but I can also no longer pretend that everything's fine between us. Enough's enough. I know where I belong, I know who I belong to, and it's not you. I wish you all the best, I truly do, but I left my heart in San Jose, and this Saturday I'm going back to get it.

With love,

Monday, March 30, 2009


Well, it's been over a year since my last update, and I've been busy. I've been to Oxford, graduated, started grad school, moved to a new place, and started a new job since we last talked. A few quick highlights:

Oxford was... good, but not the magical British experience I'd been dreaming of since I was little. Oxford during summer, I'm told, is a very different place than Oxford during the rest of the year. During the summer, all of the malls of the entirety of Europe, Asia and North America empty out onto the streets of Oxford, turning the sidewalks into impromptu parties and making getting anywhere near impossible and a total pain. I mean, teenagers. In groups. On a trip. Is anything worse? All the Britons are scared indoors and you, as a student tourist yourself, feel simultaneously annoyed with all those tourists and guilty for being part of the problem yourself. The low point of the trip was probably when I was trying really hard to be good and look to the right when crossing a street, but didn't realize it was a one-way street the other way and almost ran into a little old lady on a bike. I didn't mean to, and I apologized right away, but she cussed me out and biked away. I almost cried.

I graduated and started grad school! It's so wonderful. I love it so much more than my undergrad work. All of my classes are classes that I'm interested in and care about and the work is interesting and engaging and I like that I actually have to try (even though I'm still getting all As). Another thing I love about being in grad classes is that the other people in my classes actually care about the material, too. I've been used to being the only one in my English classes who is actually paying attention and who actually finds the material interesting, so I run the risk of either dominating the conversation and being a jerk, or keeping silent to prompt someone else into speaking and making the teacher get frustrated. Now, though, everything's cool and we can all talk and share opinions and theories and they're interesting and lively and I'm not the only one who talks!

My other job now is working as a writing tutor at my school's Writing Center. I totally love this, and this has convinced me that no matter what I do in life, part of my life needs to involve teaching people about literature and writing. God has given me a gift for being able to take ideas and verbalize them in ways that make sense to others; I do this in gymnastics, and I do this with writing. I love when I'm able to make something that once seemed complicated and difficult now appear simple and helpful. Yay!

The only problem is that now I have two jobs where I'm encouraged to correct others. Sometimes I forget to switch this off and I go about correcting people out in the real world, then realize that they aren't paying me to do that and they probably don't appreciate it and I should probably just shut up and smile.

Alright, it's late but I'm up because I took a long nap today, but now I should probably go to sleep so that tomorrow morning I can get up and go do the aforementioned coaching.

I'm hoping to keep writing in this about once a week now, just to keep up my skills of writing and observing interesting things. Feel free to encourage me to keep on it!

Alright, I wish you all a sound sleep full of first editions, redwoods, and Lord Stanley's Cup.