Of Lists and Things

September 2011
Denver, Colorado

Caitlin mentioned that she experienced “reverse culture shock” upon returning to California after spending two years in Uganda. I get what she meant. I had no culture shock whatsoever when I first arrived in the United States, but after a summer in Costa Rica, Spain and France, it’s going to take me a little while to get used to this place. I mean, where are all the street artists and musicians? Why does everybody look so busy, and why are there so many laptops all around? What is with the insanely high number of choices in the supermarket and why is everything supersized? And I suppose I’ll have to get used to not having 16th century castles to hang out in.

Still, every so often, I lose myself in the reverie of the past few months.

How do you feel when you wake up in the morning? While in Spain, I would find myself in a different hostel bed in a new city every other morning, surrounded by strangers who’d become friends, in an unfamiliar land, and the feeling I had was one of absolute bliss. Of camaraderie, adventure and freedom. The absence of plans and of anything mundane. It got me thinking – perhaps I’d like to spend the rest of my life waking up to that feeling, to that sense of adventure. (Who needs a man? Just kidding. Universe, do send a nice young man along when you can find the time.)

Classes start next week, and already I’m flooded with to-do lists. Now, I’ve never been a compulsive list-maker, but I suppose grad school turns you into one because there really is so much to do! It’s a Sunday, school hasn’t started yet, but already my list is growing:

1. Look for jobs.
2. Buy shower curtain hooks (you see, buying just the shower curtain was quite pointless).
3. Send emails.
4. Unpack.
5. Organize photos on laptop.
6. Do laundry.

7. Pick up new I-20.

But there will always be things to do and tasks to complete, and I’m going to wind up spending each day checking things off a piece of paper.

*Blinding flash of light* and suddenly I see hordes of people in suits going off to work and living their lives according to a list. Is that what I want to do? I’d rather hang out in one of the narrow cobblestoned streets of Granada with Antonio and listen to him play the guitar, thank you.

I know that probably sounds ridiculous, and perhaps a tad impractical. (“You’ve got your head in the clouds.” “Sooner or later you’ve got to return to ‘real life’. You’re still in vacation mode.” “Aiyo saami, your parents did not send you to grad school so that you could take up a vagabond life.”)

But it’s hardly as ridiculous as letting a list take over my life, is it?

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