A Week in Bullet Points

5 Nov
  • Our trip to the East Coast was fantastic. Everything we wished for and more. One of those rare periods of time when everything went off seamlessly, without a glitch, and we created stronger bonds and happier memories. No, I’m not gushing. This time was truly precious and we will always cherish it. For me, it was my best trip ever, to any place. And in the fray for that title were the surprise trip to Mussoorie to see Ruskin Bond and our pretty plush honeymoon in the middle of the Gulf of Thailand.
  • It was also surreal. We walked around on campus, with me interspersing our contemplative silence with stories of “Here’s where we marched against the war in Iraq…” and “Here’s where we all lay down at 3 in the morning to watch a meteor shower….” and “This is where I watched the plane hit the second tower…” and I kept expecting the guys from the Engineering School to call out, “Hey, Bawi!” and to see my Swathi, flatmate and darling friend, scuttle down University Hill like the white rabbit, announcing she was late. I half expected to hear Prof. Evatt’s Texan drawl, to turn the corner and have Prof. Guiniven tell me he’d never met an Indian he didn’t like (and I’d retort that I had), and to witness one more candlelight vigil at the Hendricks Chapel. It was like time had formed a vacuum corridor and sucked out most of the people I knew and replaced them with fresher faces who looked at me blankly. But those who remained remembered me. And I was engulfed in warm hugs and exclamations. It was good to be back. It had been too, too long.
  • I surprised myself. Did not shriek or cry like I’d imagined I would. Laughed and exclaimed a lot. I visited my first apartment. Rang the bell, was buzzed in, and begged to be let in to see the first room I paid for with my own money. The suspicious Chinese student looked at me like I was Saddam Hussein and waved me away. I had on an angora beret for Pete’s sake, I wailed to the Boy. Who in their right mind would wear fancy headgear if they wanted to bust an apartment?  😦
  • New York City was the perfect starting and ending point for our trip. Devoid of any powerful memories, it is neutral ground and I can view it any way I choose to. And we chose to have fun! A day of Manhattan-ing at the Met, in Central Park, and on Broadway (Watch Mary Poppins! It’s excellent!) with the Boy’s brother and cousins was so enjoyable, even though we all had sore feet from all that gadding about. I spent an afternoon with an old and dear girlfriend. And it’s true what an ex-colleague said to me on this trip: You don’t realize how much you’ve missed someone until you see them. The City brought home how alarmingly soft we’ve grown in California. This was the first time since we moved in 2011 that we used public transport. Yup. You can close that jaw now. No wait, let me finish. I was the prissy princess who sanitized her hands each time she rode the subway. Okay, now I’m all done. Oops, too late, a fly just sauntered in.
  • I visited the place where awful things had happened to me. And stared it in the eye, cursed under my breath, then out loud, blew out bitterness like smoke rings, and then let it go. I faced my demons and made my peace with the past. I will carry its lessons for a lifetime, but I cannot be burdened with its weight anymore. Wonder of wonders, there were no sniffles, and I suspect that had to do with the rock standing by my side through it all.
  • I also found my Gujarati grandma, sitting right where I had left her 7 years ago, and knew I was home. Someday I will share how special this delightful 85-year-old is, her life story, and her progressive beliefs, but for now, all I’ll say is that she embraced the Boy like the son she never had and told me my piyar had been waiting for me all along. Life is too short, and good souls too many, to love and be loved by people related only through blood.
  • Even so, my brother was the highlight of this trip, though we met way too briefly. I hadn’t seen him in nearly two years, and this meeting did us both good. Siblings become even more precious as we grow older, do they not? That I got to see him in Boston, my favorite city in the country, was the icing on the dark chocolate torte. My baby brother made lassi for me. *sniff* And offered us homemade kaju katli. *blubber* He’s all growned up now. *desperately searches for a tissue* He was still eating leftovers from our dinner together, 4 days later. Praise the lord some things never change.
  • On this journey eastward and pastward, places, memories and people melded to form a potent amalgam in our lives. We met new family, old friends, my American parents and bonus grandma, both our only siblings (as as textbook first-borns, the Boy and I feel a shade responsible for these 31- and 29-year-old men respectively), ex-coworkers, advisors, mentees, and then we met one additional person: the old me.  The Boy quite liked her, I think. This was the last bastion in the list of places that have made me who I am, and also the most significant. And I was glad he could meet the 20s me, and the places that sculpted the person who eventually became his partner. Me, I smiled at her quietly, and told her she hadn’t done too badly for herself. She tried her best and gave it her all, and for that I will always love her.
  • We came home sated. And so, so much richer. How can anyone who acquires a pair of chocolate suede boots not be fabulously wealthy? Immediately upon our return, our life and friends here swarmed around us busily, and even as we were swept along, we know we’ll always look back with gratitude at this most blessed of times, a moment when life truly came full circle for me.

12 Responses to “A Week in Bullet Points”

  1. Mom Gone Mad November 5, 2012 at 4:32 am #

    I feel sated just reading this. And completely loved up. Very happy for you!

  2. MomWithaDot November 5, 2012 at 8:00 am #

    A thin film of tears as I read this; esp. the bullet on your brother **sniff**
    Wondering if I’d like to do a trip like that with Papa Bear – Eastward, pastward……would be way toooo Eastward. 9500 miles ! Long way to go, in more ways than one 😉

  3. alice November 5, 2012 at 9:28 am #

    Loved this. Happy for you. 🙂

  4. Orange Jammies November 5, 2012 at 4:09 pm #

    Mom Gone Mad: Aww, so glad! 😀 Thanks, hon.

    MomWithaDot: Go when you’re ready. I well and truly was. And here, a kerchief for you. 🙂

    alice: Thanks, alice. There was even a reference to your world in there. 😉

  5. alice November 5, 2012 at 9:57 pm #

    OJ: Haan? Will have to re read it now ..

  6. Null Pointer November 6, 2012 at 6:05 pm #

    ohmigosh! did you meet the girl who told everyone on the streets all she wanted was to pee, while all they wanted was peace? You know, that march against the Iraq war on that cold cold Feb morning? That was me! No? Never mind.

    So brave of you to show your previous self to those you love and braver still for you to love her. Crush ’em demons with those chocolate suede boots. (I need to stop walking around in chappals)

  7. R November 6, 2012 at 10:09 pm #

    Such a lovely, warm post. From the point on revisiting your old college campus (I was already imagining and mentally jotting down my list of ‘here’s where..’) to the one on the Gujarati grandma (there are people who only love those related through blood? What a restrictive life that must be!) to the one on your baby brother (I am a first- born too and I recently read these lines, in Tamil, of how when the first- born is a girl, the second- born child ends up with two mothers!) it made for such a heart- warming read.
    P.S: What color is the Angora beret?

  8. Aunty G. November 7, 2012 at 2:24 am #

    How deeply you feel
    How facilely you reel
    The fun you’ve had
    Makes us, too, glad
    We join in the gratitude that you’ve been handed a good deal!

  9. CrazyDiamond November 7, 2012 at 8:01 pm #

    sigh. I feel happy with the world again.
    Stop taking my existential angst away from me. Its my precious

  10. Orange Jammies November 8, 2012 at 12:13 pm #

    alice: You do that. 🙂

    Null Pointer: 😆 I would’ve loved to meet her. And yes, please put on appropriate footwear.

    R: True that, about the two mothers. I was a quasi-mum at age 5. The beret is nude. With a patch of sequins. 🙂

    Aunty G: Feeling deeply is all very well
    As long as in reality one can dwell
    We can feel a bit
    Then snap out of it
    Mustn’t allow our sense of self to swell!

    CrazyDiamond: Perish the thought. I’d rather bury Sunshine Woman first.

  11. Scribbler November 27, 2012 at 1:43 am #

    This post reminds me of one of L. M. Montgomery’s heroines, who at 14, wrote a letter to her grown-up self.
    Going back can be intimidating…There is the dread of encountering the ghoulies & beasties of the past, and there is the dread of seeing that the good ol’ things have changed. But you make it sound worthwhile!

    I am so glad that your ‘journey eastward & pastward’ was such a happy one =)

  12. Orange Jammies November 30, 2012 at 12:37 pm #

    Scribbler: It is worthwhile….when you’re ready. 🙂 Thanks for sharing a reference to literature, I always enjoy those!

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