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holiday reflection

december was kind of a huge blur for me between all of the stuff leading into the New Orleans Bowl on the 21st and then flying home on the 22nd. I was home for a full two weeks (plus an unplanned extra day due to weather), and i thought that that extra time would make it so that i could see more people yet have a fairly relaxed pace.

While i did see a lot of people, it definitely wasn't the most relaxing, exactly. Turns out that it's not that difficult for me to fill up every day with multiple hangouts with people in the area. From the 26th pretty much through January 2nd i was in a constant state of either travel or hanging out with some person or a group of people, some of which i see every year and others who i haven't seen in over 20 years. The last few days would have been more active too if i didn't come down with a flu/cold.

One of the odd things about the trip was that it was a mixture of all of my past and present lives combined - seeing people i haven't seen since high school brought back certain very distant memories that at the time i tried to move past but can now look back with some fondness. Seeing Kim and Grant at a Starbucks within walking distance of Washington Township High School brought back a flood of very different sort of pleasant memories when i was already in a state of happiness and gratitude about starting a new chapter in the relationship that i have with Kim's family. Seeing Mario teaching a winter drumline with exercises that were either inspired by or exact replicas of the exercises that i played when i marched with him and with others who were a part of the Westshoremen or the Crossmen was a crazy experience. I also ended up driving up to Conneticut where i hung out with Ashleigh, representing my life at the University of Oregon, and i got to briefly say hello to RJ while i was playing poker close to the Rhode Island border on New Years Eve, representing my first years at Tulane and in New Orleans. And at a different point in Bensalem, PA, i got to grab a drink with a guy named Tony who also came from my life at the University of Oregon.

And then there are the other regulars - the ones who may have started in a place where i used to be but now belong in a context of where and who we are now. I don't think of Hannah and Ethan or Eric or Megan as references to my past as much as i think of them as a part of my life in the now, and some of the others who i've started to see once a year on a regular basis are slowly mutating in that direction also.

One of the odd things that came into my head during this trip was a particular reinforcement of Eastern Pennsylvania in my brain. In the past few years when i've gone back there for the holidays, i've come to the conclusion that it was a nice place to come back to but it wasn't a place i would ever want to move back to because it represents a) who i was more than who i am now and b) a particular kind of lifestyle and safety net that feels stagnant. I don't want to live in a place where i am within arms reach of a lot of these people and these resources - i want to be in a place where i know practically no one and i can work new connections from the ground up. I also don't really identify with the east coast as much as i identify with the west coast and with new orleans.

That said, this time around, seeing all of the people that i saw, hearing new stories about new lives and some new stories about old lives, while a part of me still had that sense of "i don't belong here", there was another part of me that felt like, "i could be accepted here." And that's an interesting shift in perspective from one of my past because for the first time it puts eastern PA in some sort of "home" space in my brain in a way that Eugene, OR has kind of left. Not that i wouldn't be able to rekindle that feeling if i moved back to the pacific northwest (although if i did that i would probably move to Portland or Seattle as opposed to Eugene), but it's interesting that i can put eastern PA into a category like that at all.

And that's a good sort of change because it breaks up my expectation, redefines something that in some sense was very core in my brain and in my heart, and i'm always looking for those sorts of opportunities to shake things up. The last thing i want is for my future and my opinions to be absolutely certain.

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