Monday, February 16, 2009


My heart ached a bit when I first saw the water. The sensation surprised me enough that I rubbed at my chest even as my eyes stayed fixed on the view before me. Frozen and coated with a layer of snow, it still brought to mind many hours spent with various people, staring out at the line where the deep blue water met the lighter sky while we discussed matters of varying importance.

I remember when construction started on that building, I thought of the tall structure that was already showing signs of wear. I recall sitting on a crush’s lap and sharing a margarita at that bar. I thought of M as I sat and ate pizza for lunch, sitting alone in booth and remembering spending days with my friend and never tiring of her company. I lived in those apartments for two years, checked my mailbox in that building with the huge columns for four, worked out of that office for 6 months and last gave a seminar about a year ago in that lecture hall over there. I remember waiting at that crosswalk during frigid winter mornings, bundled up but still feeling the tips of my ears go numb where they'd escaped my hat and spared a sympathetic thought to the young woman who triggered the memory.

Having not returned to my post-doctoral city since the trip where my belongings were packed away and driven north, the nostalgia that overwhelmed me upon visiting the town that hosted my graduate study was surprising and strong. It’s a good place – one that was my home for a few years in my early twenties and holds far more good memories than bad. Today, I held meetings and took notes, unfazed by how little my opinion of people changed despite the new perspective this position offers.

“You’re very emotional in email,” Adam said this morning when we spoke. “Whether you’re pleased or angry, there’s an intensity there that probably shouldn’t be. So try to reign that in.”

Hurt, I offered a dark frown that didn’t travel through the phone line. I know evocative words! And my enthusiasm and energy have been praised by multiple people! As usual, my irritation quickly gave way to sadness. I’m not good at this job, I kept telling myself as I traveled toward my next meeting. I am emotional and intense, I acknowledged easily, thinking how my fit of tears a few nights ago matched the one in grad school when a fellow student criticized my work ethic. Do I really want a job that requires me to compromise an inherent facet of my personality?

I’m tired, I thought, sighing as I faced my reflection after washing my face. I rolled my eyes at the angry pimple on the tip of my nose – it’s positively hideous and without Bare Minerals (It makes me pretty!), I couldn’t bear leaving the house. Distracted by how adorable my hair was, I tugged on a loose curl and grinned as it bounced back. Aligning beauty products semi-neatly on the counter, I sighed when I realized I’d need to be up again at 4 to pack again and flit off to the next city.

While some things don’t change, I tried to soothe my sleepy brain, I’m not exactly the same person I was when I started grad school in 2001. Or finished in 2005. The opportunity for growth is positive, despite predictably wounded feelings whenever I’m criticized. So I pulled my curls into a ponytail, grabbed my camera to download photos from my last few cities and dabbed repairing cream on the tip of my nose before crossing my eyes to glare at the offending blemish once more.

Nostalgia aside, I’m ready to make the trip to the next city on my itinerary. I already miss home.


DocElectron said...

So I've just had a chance to catch up on your posts from the road - and I'm tired for you.

I actually have come to really dislike nostalgia - I know that probably sounds silly, but I always have a hard time with it, it drains me and wears me out, even when I try not to let it.

Happy safe travels!

microbiologist xx said...

Obviously, I've never read your emails, but I bet they do reflect your least based on your blog. Not that I think you write professional emails as if you are blogging. What I mean is, you have a wonderful way of getting your emotions through when you write, at least when you write here. I think many people have difficulty with this, myself included. This makes me think you just have a natural propensity for it. :) As far as the work part goes, I cannot say if this is good or bad, but I hope you don't let it get you too sad. I would imagine reeling in this ability, is far easier than developing it. :)
As an aside, 4:00am. EGADS!

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