Saturday, May 07, 2005

Once in a while you forget

One semester I did this awful internship in DC. My history with new places is a bit of a joke to everyone I know. When I first went to college, I hated it. I thought I would leave after the first year and never go back. I ended up loving it, though. When I went to DC, I hated it the whole time. When I first came to grad school, I thought Minneapolis was the worst place in the world. I don't mind it so much now.

However, I didn' t have that much time to get to know DC. I had a semester. And I was miserable.

I met a really good friend there, though. We had our internships through this awful organization, but one of the things that this organization did was plan a bike trip through the city. I guess it was to orientate us to the city. Whatever. They said it was a ten-mile bike trip, but it was more like sixteen. I was sore for days.

Our semester was a waste. We did whatever we could to get out of work. I left in the middle of the day, regularly. We walked to the nearest 7-11 and I bought her beer so she could drink it illegally in our apartment and I drank more Slurpees in that four month period than the rest of my life combined. I loved the Metro, hated the noise. Loved the Washington Post, hated the people who all dressed and looked a like. Most of all, I was homesick for the familiar. Some people do well with new people constantly in their faces. I am not one of those people.

My mom's family lives in Pennsylvania. For Thanksgiving, we got someone to give us a ride halfway to their house and they came to pick up my friend and I.

I was sick. I was so stressed and hated so much the lifestyle I had been living, my body was revolting. As soon as I got to my aunt and uncle's house, I fell asleep on thier living room couch. I woke up, my throat was so sore I could barely speak, and my aunt took it upon herself to take me to the store to get some cough drops and medicine.

This is Pennsylvania in November. It was snowing like mad. So much snow I wouldn't have left the house at all. But she shrugged, packed me in the car, and drove me to the store. The whole time she talked to me, telling me how proud everyone was of me, and that they knew it would all be better and that the semester would be over soon enough and wasn't it GREAT that I could come visit them and they were so happy to see me and my friend and she was my own personal cheerleader. I've never forgotten how happy it was that my aunt took me to the store. We got some Sucrets, but it was her talking to me that made me feel better.

When we got back to her house, I fell asleep again. Meanwhile, what you should keep in your mind is that my friend has never met any of my family before and now I've completely zonked out.

I wake up and my family is with my friend in the next room playing Scrabble. We're a Scrabble family. Other families play Trivial Pursuit, but we play Scrabble. They are YELLING at my friend over the playing of "yeti," claiming it is proper noun. When looked up in the dictionary, it is found to be both. My friend claims triumphant victory. And that's why I love my family. They make everyone feel at home.

My aunt is really sick. And I want to be her cheerleader now, just like she was mine. In her time of need, I want to tell her that I love her and that it will be better soon and that everyone's so proud of her and that she's doing GREAT and that soon we'll see each other and we can go frolicking in the snow again. But I don't think that I'll get to do that soon. Because she's sick. So I send cards and I send my love, but I can't be there to cheerlead in person. And that's what makes grad school so difficult. It has destroyed my personal life and replaced it with jokes about Robert Putnam and b-hats.

So I can't foget the time my aunt spent with me and making me feel better. I need to remember. I need her to remember. And that's the hardest part. She gets my cards and letters and doesn't remember. But I remember. Because how do you forget such love?

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