Tuesday, May 2, 2017

The Dogs Dissolve and Drain Away

It is so appropriate that my last blog post, circa two years ago, the preface to the journey I just ended today, included lyrics from Neutral Milk Hotel’s King of Carrot Flowers Part 1. This morning, on my walk with Abbie, I had a craving for Neutral Milk Hotel, specifically for King of Carrot Flowers Part 2, which I bellowed into the windy May air. I love evenness, perfect synchronized timings, when things line up, and this whole day has felt full of that.

Kit introduced me to Neutral Milk Hotel the summer I left the bank and prepared to enter grad school. She said it was the quintessential cool music of her high school. I looked it up, and the album In the Aeroplane Over the Sea became my soundtrack of that post-bank, pre-grad time. It felt to me like a kind thunderstorm in summer dusk, like gusts of loving rain washing the outside environment so that it could become something else.  

Today was a day of endings. My last classes of grad school. My last assignment dunked via email while my friend Fleur played Prince’s 1999 in celebration of my end, hers soon to follow.

The first of my two classes today was the most climactic, thanks to the best prof I’ve had in the program, a guy who spent our last couple hours together giving us a proper end with pizza, sharing, and poetry. The poem, which reminded me of Blood Bank, did me in, and I teared up, not quite able to stem the slight brimming of tears but not trying hard to stop either. There was a lot of gratitude for the prof and a knowledge that classes are ending—these things I kind of love.

I often think of Andy Bernard’s statement in the last episode of The Office, “I wish there was a way to know you're in the good old days before you've actually left them.” I did know. I knew, especially during the last sem, as I sat amongst fellow students, that I liked this, the community, the fellow learning, even the shared complaining. But even this knowledge, this mental self-pinching, doesn’t fully plunge you into the current moment. It’s an early goodbye, an ‘I’m going to miss this.’ It occurs to me now that the only thing that helps is presence in the moment—something that, now written, already is a mental construct. As soon as we say it, we’re distanced from it. As soon as we think about it, we’re looking in, window-shopping.

Fortunately this semester was not bereft of present connection. One of the best memories of the sem is leading a heist in a class to overturn a heinous assignment and turn it into a more feasible one. I can thank the child I’m carrying for the other notable example of communal connection. I had wanted to be part of a community while pregnant, and I got my wish. I couldn’t have picked a better group to be part of during this time, a personable, warm, empathetic bunch of people who’ve devoted their lives to social work. 

Today's endings marched on as I entered Tropical Smoothie and ordered my favorite, the Carribean C-burst. It’s no longer carried. I settled peacefully for the Sunrise Sunset, an appropriate name.

I came home to Blondie who has been gulping The Office, his second time watching the series, and he was just starting the very last episode and asked me to join him. The episode is all about how there’s beauty even in the most mundane things. It was comforting to see this; it ground in the message that had been at the back of my mind all day, that the thing that’s coming is the thing I’m most going to want to be there for, the good old days I’m most going to want to plunge into.

In the last two years, I have better learned how to be present. I have practiced putting aside my desire for excellence and diving instead into what I want. The Office’s Pam desperately wanted viewers to do this very thing. I hope I can give weight to what I want, outside the nurturing context of school. When I left college, I don’t think I knew how to do that. Today I’m a bit better.

That fave prof's class minus the prof who is taking the pic. 4/4/17

“And on the lazy days
The dogs dissolve and drain away
The world it goes
And all awaits
The day we are awaiting

Up and over we go
Through the wave and undertow
I will float until I learn how to swim
Inside my mother in a garbage bin
Until I find myself again, again”
-Neutral Milk Hotel

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