Wednesday, November 28, 2007

built a room in the sky, window on the floor

Yesterday was truly the first time I realized that I really no longer live in the city. Since I've been too busy to really ponder the question, until now I pretty much assumed I was in a somewhat urban environment but simply lacked the time to discover all the city haunts. Last night, however, the reality stared me in the face. I turned a corner and suddenly a row of houses spread out, lit up. For a moment, I thought I was at some kind of fair, like the San Gennaro festival in Little Italy. But no, it was just one of those streets, one of those blocks that somehow evolves in the suburb such that everyone that lives on that block knows that the day after Thanksgiving, you best have strewn your holiday lights around your trees and lining your house.

At first, I didn't even understand why it seemed so foreign to me. Growing up in EBF, there were neighborhoods you'd drive to around this time of year to admire the handiwork of a little enclave of majestic old homes. Then it occurred to me that I never saw a display like this in all the years I lived in the Mission. Sure, there were the occasional Christmas trees in the window or a few lights. But never this kind of coordinated Martha Stewartesque spectacle. In the Mission, if anything, the lighting was all crazed, always somehow ironic. Furthermore, in San Francisco, I imagine you could get a serious amount of grief for wasting that much electricity.

And then, just then, for the first time, I felt worried about how I will handle living here for the next 3.5 years. Most likely, they'll go as the last stretch of time has gone: thoroughly unnoticed. Still, when I had the brief moment yesterday, I have to admit I worried.

I worry about other things too. I don't worry about the things that other students seem to freak out about. Right now, people are starting to show signs of cracking because finals will soon be upon us. That doesn't concern me, honestly, and I do not say that the way some students say that, with this strange machismo attempting to pretend they're not scared. I'm sure I will freak about finals, but they are not directly in front of me at the moment, and besides which, everyone seems to get through them every year, so I just don't imagine I'm particularly special.

But that's what I worry about. There's a lot of things I'm interested in, but I can't bring myself to muster up the energy to be as bubbly or enthusiastic or ridiculous about appointing myself to anything the way that some of my classmates can. And also, the fact that so many of my classmates are obviously gunning to gather titles for themselves, well, that fact further repulses me from the idea of pursuing anything. I know I am probably shooting myself in the foot, and someday, when I am applying for residency or searching for recommendation letters, I will be so indistinct as to be in big trouble. But I guess that's what bothers me about the whole thing. It seems like the only way to be distinguishable or noticeable is to be an annoying or cutthroat person. I aspire to neither, and frankly, I'm too old to fake it for the sake of advancement.

Of course, a moment after these thoughts overrun my head, they leave my brain, and I return to what is in front of me. I guess that's the one advantage I've garnered over the past few years of treading water. I've become well-versed in the art of not worrying about the future. It will sort itself out, and I very much doubt anything I do (or do not do) today will change that.

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