It was only a year ago that I came across Marina Keegan’s piece The Opposite of Loneliness written for Yale Daily news. We all learned of her death soon after. Her words continue to penetrate my thoughts. “This scares me. More than finding the right job or city or spouse – I’m scared of losing this web we’re in. This elusive, indefinable, opposite of loneliness. This feeling I feel right now.”
I came to the AIE cohort feeling misunderstood. I was not too sure where I fit in this world of Muslims and non-Muslims, realists and idealists, Americans and citizens of the world. False dichotomies perhaps, but they ruled my world until I made it here. Here, I thought was safe, but soon enough, trickled in the apprehensions. I finally stumbled across an entire cohort of romantics, dreamers, and inspirers. Was there space for an introvert like myself? Was this space genuine, effective? I slowly receded within myself– uncertain as to whether the label of the creative was one I wished to carry.
Then came the intimate conversations, the unraveling of personal narratives, and the spotlighting of human insights. This youthful bunch, who once seemed years beyond my passions, talents, and dedication, became people who were in relationships, seeking love, breaking up and down. They enjoyed trying new restaurants, listening to top forty music, but some also swore off anything synthetic enough to make it to the radio waves.
In the words of Jay-z, these people could literally have been anywhere in the world, but there they were, right here, with me.
Many of my classmates have naturally earned their spots on my speed dial list, many of them will be on the receiving end of lengthy emails, phone rants, or dramatically long reviews of the latest books, articles, plays, music, and films that I have consumed. Some will make treks across the Atlantic to come see me, and others – well, I will gradually shed my daily routines to join them in theirs.
In an effort to continue the conversation, I have taken it upon myself to acknowledge that it is not only about strengthening the bonds I have made while here, but it is also about having the courage to reach out months, years, or decades later to a classmate that I might have only spoken to briefly, because intuition inspired me to do so.
Moving forward is about recognizing that neither time nor space stands in the way of the maintenance, development or strengthening of a tie. Rather, apathy. Stomp apathy.
I remind myself time and time again that the best moments of our lives are not behind us – they will continue to erupt. Our paths will all cross in due time. Cities, literature, experiences, both professional and personal will soon define our nexus.
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