There I sat on the turf of the soccer field. 200 first-year bodies were clumped together in a big donut around the few upperclass organizers. Sigh. Although I was practically cuddling up to all the people around me I felt like the space between myself and them was infinite. The feeling was painfully familiar, and I wondered if it would ever go away here or for good, or, if it would follow me around niggling at my heels for the rest of my life. As much as I was feeling pretty entertained by this event, my smiles could not fully reach my eyes, and I felt like I didn’t belong.
Suddenly, I saw the people to my front turn around and look directly at me, their faces frozen in various looks of alarm. Compelled by something beyond my conscious awareness I turned my gaze upwards to the sky, where I saw an orange moon directly above me slowly growing. It was beautiful up there against the dark blue sky and stars, the light of the stadium lights shone off it, creating crescent shadows. I wondered what it was or why it was up there. Instinctively my head leaned to the left and in an instant -bam!- the orange moon hit my shoulder like a missile and fell to the ground in half. Amidst the clamor and voices of “are you okay? did it hit your head? are you okay?” I looked down past my newly orange-scented shoulder to see that it wasn’t a orange moon, but an orange orange.
And it had chosen me.
Adjusting to a new place, new people, a new lifestyle is never easy. It may be even less easy for me, given my personality and predilection towards spiraling into numbness and loss of my sense of self in times of stress. But this time I like to think that things are shifting. The more I go through this process again and again I am beginning to find a little more sense of myself within it. I don’t think I feel the same level of pressure and desperate urgency that I have felt in the past in these types of situations. At the same time, though, to say that I’ve transcended that pressure and am free of it is definitely kidding myself. It is a daily struggle to remind myself of who I am, and to reference for myself the many life experiences that have weathered me and given me faith in the natural rhythm of things, in my own rhythms, and in my ability to play these situations out and be resourceful. Getting a grip on myself despite nervous tics and grotesque nightmares – racing heart, and stomach upset – headaches and fitful sleep – feelings of isolation and worries of low social standing- so that I am not helplessly immobilized, is not a new thing for me.
I am strong in these situations. I am strong despite the instability and endless struggling of my body. But, despite this, I am still strapped tight into this rollercoaster. There is a randomness in the sporadic way it lurches forward then crawls along, dives up, and plunges downward. It is important for me to remember that for as long as I am on this ride all of these states are passing- both the bad, and the good. Nightmare becomes dream becomes nightmare. When I am in darkness and pain that will pass, when I am in excitement and joy, that will pass. Until things settle and until the mechanism of the ride is healed and fixed, this is the way of things.
For now I will hold close those moments when I am alone, outside or away from my room- when I stand in a quiet empty classroom, or outside among the rich foliage, and look at the beauty of the world around me. In those moments, I feel myself like a lone star, a yellow dot in the etherial blackness of infinite, expanding space. I flash back through the images in my mind of all the environments, places and people that have ever surrounded my body. All of them have said different things about who I am. All of them have shown me different possibilities for myself, even if they feel distant. I remember that this place, and everything that surrounds my vessel, is in a state of constant movement and change. This place exists but someday it will not exist, and even within that timeframe the way its existence presents itself to me will change. This moment and situation does not have the final say. For in the flux, the living core of my physical body is the one thing that is always present and always true. Whatever happens here, I remember that the reality of this environment, the social dynamics, and the subconsciously ingrained methods of social control do not have a hold on my narrative.
I am free to wield perspective, and to forgive myself.