Around the Block

Plans are made to be broken and clichés are meant to be forgotten, but when the sun rises, even if the blade is blunt, it hurts all the same. I’m making no sense, and doesn’t that leave me without change?

Cut the homonyms, they don’t work as well in writing.

Where to begin? It’s been an adventure–and every step unexpected.

As you may know (or soon will, depending on how frequently you read me), I spent the start of August in Mexico with my, ahem, boyfriend. So I knew the time would be limited (and my internet connection spotty) so I spent some time ahead of time preparing things to post both here and on Silent Soliloquy, my fiction and poetry blog.

Got it. I went. And it was good.

And then I came back.

And immediately the semester began.

Now, to preface this, I’m a double major in the Mathematics Honors and Political Science programs with a minor in Creative Writing, and I promised myself when I transferred to N.C. State two years ago that I’d finish my undergrad in three years.

Well, look it here, this is the start of my third year.

So, to accommodate my self-mandate (and not to exceed federal financial aid limits), I’ve got to bring my studies to a close in two semesters. Mind you, I added a second major–which brought with it some unintended extra classes–and I’m pursuing math honors–which means I need to pick up a couple extra classes there, too.

Thus: I’m enrolled in nineteen credit hours. That required a waiver to register.

And didn’t I mention I’m also president of the GLBT student group on campus? And that I’m a team leader for a spring break service trip going to San Francisco focusing on LGBT youth homelessness? And that I got a promotion–now I’m not only tutoring mathematics, but also observing other tutors and training them?

And didn’t I say the semester began immediately after getting back?

So I haven’t had a moment to breathe, and I don’t plan on breathing until I graduate in May–and then, for other reasons, I might still be holding my breath. So writing here? It’s been a challenge. It’s why it’s now past midnight when I’m penning these words, because I haven’t had a moment to write until this moment, right now.

I have to admit, I’m feeling a tad bit overwhelmed. My professors are assigning far more work than humanly possible to complete, and even while I love all my other commitments, they require substantial portions of my time, too. But the beauty of being busy is that I really do love everything I’m doing: So far my complex analysis class has been a blast, and even while linear algebra isn’t as engaging as the undergrad version I took two years ago in my first semester here, I really do enjoy the material. My research methods class has a lot of assignments to tackle each week, but it’ll be especially useful since this semester I’m also conducting grant-funded research on the relationship of political candidates’ sexual orientation and how they’re perceived. Not to mention, my fantasy literature and poetry workshop classes provide just enough incentive to keep on my passions of reading and writing so I probably won’t go entirely insane this semester.

But more so than all of that, given all the stress I’ve been under lately (for reasons that I shall expand upon in due time, I promise), the world feels small. Growing up, I felt small myself–I notoriously named myself “micrody” on Neopets, an amalgamation of “micro” and “D,” the first letter of my name–but with all my service in advocacy and leadership, now I feel big (humbled by a greater awareness of my privilege, but big nonetheless). And as I grew, the world seemed to grow with me–more people, more places, more concepts and ideas to reconcile and overcome.

I frequently remark to myself that life was easier with a smaller vocabulary. It didn’t matter what religion you were if I didn’t know more than one religion–whatever beliefs you had, they were good, because weren’t all beliefs the same anyways–what a parson believes? It didn’t matter if I was straight or gay or cisgender or transgender–people were who they wanted to be and loved whomever their heart told them to love. And what were riches compared to poverty? Money could not make a child happy–but now money dangles an “easy ride to happiness” pass before the eyes of every adult. Now we can recognize inequality. Now we can see injustice. Now we’re responsible to change the world.

And changing the world? It’s not an easy task, and not always a pleasant journey.

Yet even still, sometimes I’m amazed at how small the world really is. In a matter of a few clicks on a touch-screen keyboard, I can communicate with people halfway around the world, connected to entire communities of people who share my identities–who share all the facets of my many fears, all the experiences I’ve been through or soon will see. In one moment alone, isolated, drowning. In the next, rising to the surface and witnessing the birth of a new world rising on the horizon of a sun-painted, scintillating ocean.

But it’s not just that. It’s those other moments, those moments that make me say: “Deep down, I hate people, but even deeper, really I just love them so much I can’t handle it.” Because although I love community, I’m still a shy little boy who’s scared on the inside, and being around other people–even in pleasant situations–just saps all the energy outside of me. I blame the introversion. It brings many bounties, but many ails as well.

So today, I was walking home, and crossed paths with a member of the GLBT group. I’ve known her since last semester, and I’m proud to say I’ve finally remembered her name, and we stopped and spoke for a few moments. It was mostly small talk, but meaningful regardless. Then I treated myself to the movie Maleficent, which was playing on campus tonight (which itself brought me back to conversations I had about fairy tales and classic Disney films with my boyfriend) and as the lights came up at the end, who should I see but a good friend two rows up? And then, as I went to check my mailbox, I ran into another person I’ve met only a few times before, and she recognized me, so we talked a little, exchanging names and recalling where we first met.

And it was wonderful. I’m swimming in a fishbowl of shared identity and solitary experience, and these momentary connections–genuine interactions that are just enough to ground me without leaving me feeling drained–were all I needed to remember how small the world is, how insignificant and even meaningless an individual moment can be.

I’m stressed. I’m overwhelmed. If I stop to breathe, I hyperventilate. But this moment will pass. In the grand picture, in the tightly woven tapestry we each become when we fade into the world beyond, a single cloth stretched through time and space and all our souls in between, this moment means nothing.

And that realization means everything.

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