Wednesday, October 3, 2012

An Endless Parade of Eureka Moments

After a lunch date of delicious pizza and equally delicious company, my will to get back work has been temporarily misplaced. I knew it would happen, but it's never not worth it to be able to zip out and dine with my favorite gentlemen (Mike and HR, in case there was any doubt) when the chance presents itself. If I have to resort to late afternoon caffeine, so be it.

On the way to the restaurant, which required me to walk the route by my old college campus, I was hit with a wave of nostalgia. Make no mistake, I am very happy to not be in school at the moment. The thought of never having to compose another academic paper is both thrilling and a teeny, tiny bit sad. Mostly thrilling. But man I loved school, for the school of it. I wasn't a great social butterfly in my higher learning days, I mean, I had friends and I do have some great memories of non-scholastic exploits, but when I feel a yearning for college, it's always in terms of the classroom. I would freaking love to be sitting around talking about Tom Jones for two hours or doing an intense workshop on a poem right now. It's not like studying  liberal arts did much for me, professionally, but I loved the curriculum, and the experience of going to college turned me into an adult really fast, in the best way possible. I learned quickly how much I reveled in being on my own, making my own decisions, figuring things out. It just so happened that my readiness to leave one nest (my family home) coincided with my excitement about landing in another (a world of Shakespeare Workshop, Nonfiction Writing, Women in Literature and the Colonial Perspective, you get the picture).

When I speak of my nostalgia, it's not like I want to go "back there" and relive it. I just look back fondly on my experience, and if I can make a point to access and maintain the feeling that was stirred up in me this afternoon, hit that sweet spot that was the product of 8+ years of nurtured fancy book learnin' (I did my graduate work on a slooooowwww track), I am in my happy place. I know for sure that I experienced a lot of stress in the process of earning my degrees, but that's not the part that truly sticks with me. I already knew that learning made me happy. Creating and contributing made me happy. But college brought it out in me in a way I'd never expected.

That was worth all the money spent. I will say that I do not come from a family with means-- I was so lucky, both in how my alma mater really hooked me up in terms of grants and scholarships, and how I was able to cover the rest through a combination of annual birthday-and-Christmas savings bonds (thank you, Gram and Pup) and loans. Of which I'm finally at the tail end of repaying. I don't know how people do it these days, honestly, or how we'll do it for HR when it comes time. And I know college isn't for everyone. But it so, so, so was for me. And in a perfect world everyone should have the opportunity to live what I lived, get out of it what they can get out of it, if that's what they want. And that is a grim prospect these days.

I am publicly stating for the record that I don't want to go back for my PhD or be a professor or teach in any way shape or form. But academia will never not appeal to me as a gauzy, fantastical, heaven-like state. Not in the snobbish, exclusive way. Just the totally ecstatic, books-are-our-friends way.

Collegiate song tie-in, kinda: one night in my sophomore year, either my roommate or I had this song in our head and we became obsessed with it, staying up all night trying to remember who sang it. If it were even a couple of years later, the internet would have solved that in seconds. Instead we lost a lot of sleep on a song that, as it turned out, neither of us liked much in the first place. But at the moment one of us--I still can't recall who--came up with the singer's name, it was THE most satisfying feeling.

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