Jennifer A. Chin (cswallow) wrote,
Jennifer A. Chin

Seeking, remembrance

After all the effort of arriving in these moments, when the night air hugs me like fog around the San Francisco coastline, when the crickets give up their trembling song, and when an exam hangs dejectedly around the corner... this is when I most fear that I forget myself.

They think of everything at Fuqua: we always know where to go, and when. I have to remind myself, sometimes, of what I'm looking for. It is easy to drift on the rigorous schedule of activities and classes. I catch a whiff of my purpose, sometimes, like a salmon heading for its birthwaters. Clumsily, I try to turn upstream. 

And yet when my section of 70 classmates tumbles like popcorn out of our first final, I see us congregate in the hallways, assessing the exam. I tuck into an alcove for a moment, peer back out, just watching, and remember that I am living with everyday as a gift. In that moment, and a hundred like it, I rejoice in the steady stream of social and academic events that we have encountered together. I feel that in one month I have already changed. It's easier, already, to strike up conversation with people I don't know. We are all children, trying to learn one another. Our questions alight back and forth, like the exploratory fingers of blind men.

In the evenings I slip away, cat-quiet, to Wilson gym. There, I treasure the last days in which I may monopolize the dance rooms. Soon the undergraduates will begin their club activities. Soon I will have to scramble to squeeze my waltzing and tangos into the scant windows of unreserved gym time. But for now, I am the only occupant. I turn my music up and set my body across the floor. It has been hard, harder than I thought, to adjust to practicing alone again. I miss the push-pull of practicing with Charles, the philosophizing and the laughter. Sometimes I still wonder... have I made the right choice? Am I not most myself when I am dancing?

One of my classmates, Rex, sent me an interview with Dana Gioia - simultaneously poet and businessman. In a brilliant arabesque of insight, Gioia illuminates how being an artist and being a business person do not have to be mutually exclusive. Just as dance is not just about dancing, business is not just about business. And we should not, as people who are both creative and business minded, shut the two worlds away from one another. We should not feel ashamed of the field we have come from, nor allow others to feel ashamed of turning toward a new field. Thus does Gioia urge me to find out how I can be both. And in that, how I may be a writer also, and a cook, a reader and an artist, a student and a teacher, a daughter and sister, a friend and lover.

Sometimes I think at Fuqua we apply labels too strongly. We associate people with concentrations, and companies. Or with countries, or states. In class we talk about the danger of categorization and then over lunch we can't stop asking each other about our labels. Gioia, I think, reminds us to be whole people. To be unbounded and full faceted. To move beyond the easy facts and get to one another's hearts.

This night feels timeless, though I know it is rolling over slowly. The next day will be spent with my incredible new friends.Another struggle of an exam, together, before we celebrate as one. When the weekend rises, I will return to my family, and to the people I grew up with. These two banks cradle me, and I brush against them both on my way forward. Somewhere upstream is where I will know myself. 
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