Wednesday, December 1, 2010

10 Days: Why I Wish I Didn't Know How to Count

Counting is dangerously close to countdown. Countdown means watching the clock like a timer, like a kettle of water coming to a rolling boil, like the postman when you are waiting for a letter from a good friend. Counting down means awaiting the next corner, what lies ahead of us. It is straining to bring the future into the present, and straining to see beyond what is directly in front of us.

And so I wish I didn't know how to count.

I don't want to bring the future of my impending return to school, to Massachusetts, to home, into my present. I don't want the AirTran Airways plane to land me in Boston. I don't want the future here. I want Georgetown cupcakes, the International Spy Museum, the kitchen table where I sit writing this blog post, my roommates, and my beloved D6 bus (I write about that bus a lot... some deep conversations have happened on it). I don't want to live in a countdown because I'm afraid that if I bring the fiery force of the future into my world in DC, I will simply crumble. I know on some level that all things come to an end, that things must change, that we must move, and grow, and return, and leave. I know all of that.

But I want to keep DC in my heart. I want to stay here and let my roots sink a little deeper into this soil. I said goodbye to my internship today and as I walked out of the clean glass doors (the ones that must be oiled daily, they are so silent), and called for the last elevator to take me down to the first floor... I wanted to cry, because I don't want to be uprooted from the people there, from the wonderful conversations and laughs and coffees and lunches I have been privileged to have over the past ten weeks. I don't want to say goodbye, and I don't want to count down, and I don't want to leave.

It's ten days until I leave this city, and I return home, to Gordon, to friends and family, to Advent in a familiar place. And the returning will be good, just as the leaving was good. It's strange to realize that I am now repeating my feelings in reverse: where I had been anxious and sad to leave Boston, I am now anxious and sad to leave DC. Where I had dreaded landing into the unknown of Union Station, the Dirksen Senate Office Building, Eastern Market, the Pentagon, Georgetown, and ASP itself... I now fear the unknown of what lies at home. How have people changed since I've been away? How have I changed? Will the new Hilary fit into the old places?

I wish I didn't know how to count, friends. If I didn't know how to count, then I would sense time simply passing by, without constantly trying to be one step ahead of it and without wanting to wring out every last drop of time here. I would simply be in time, simply live out daily how and what I feel, without the added anxiety of counting hours, days and minutes until departure.

And so, at the end of this slightly rambling blog post, I leave myself (and all of you) with these words (thank you, Lisa, for giving them to me this summer):

"How hard it is to escape from places. However carefully one goes they hold you - you leave little bits of yourself fluttering on the fences - like rags and shreds of your very life." - Katherine Mansfield.


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