Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Missing links

Warning: Sheer rambling. Read at your own risk.

Many a time, I have observed this phenomenon in life.

You meet a new person who becomes a friend and you keep meeting her/him for a while. And then it's time to leave. Or you go to a new place which you're going to visit frequently. And then that stops. Or you enter an era which is going to last for a while. And then it ends. For example, joining a sports/art class and going there for a while. Starting a job and continuing there for a couple of years. Joining a school/college where you're going to spend a few years.

In all of these cases, just before or just when you embark on these journeys, you have some ideas about what it's going to be like - some images, some associations, etc. Most importantly, there are some things that remain constant while everything around you keeps changing, keeps evolving. But at the end of the period, those few things are still there. Constants. Links. Those few things that link that whole period together when you look back. And then, when you keep looking back, at some point, the original image and the new, current image, merge. And then it all makes sense.

But this never happened to me with Stanford. It has been one of the most bizarre experiences of my life! I can't think of anything from my first quarter here that is still fully present. The Stanford I knew before and when I just came here - the picture I had, and the Stanford that is, now, are POLES APART.

Roommates changed. Houses changed. House locations changed. Friends changed. Class mates changed. Professors changed. Close friends changed. A complete social circle changed. Pastimes changed. Tastes changed. Attitudes changed. Coursework changed. Feelings changed. Comfort level changed. Financial situation changed. Problems changed. Professional goals changed.

Like I said earlier, usually, at the end of an era, the old image and the new image, at some point, merge into a qualitative average. But that's not the case here. The images are distinctly separate. Although they are both real, to think of one with respect to the other... it feels so surreal! "One of these two has to be a dream", I tell myself, sometimes.