Friday, April 1, 2011

Time in a Bottle

It's been a while since I've updated this blog, and that in itself really makes me sad. But I haven't abandoned it yet...there's still money in my account, so I've got to pick it up again at some point. Just not now...not when I'm still struggling to keep up with medical school. 

This spring break, I went back to Southern California for the first time in almost a year. I'd been waiting for this trip for so long that I was afraid it would end up a disappointment - you know the way that things do when you build your expectations up too high. But no - it was everything I wanted and if there was anything I had to complain about, it was the fact that there was just too little time.

Time - if spring break were an essay, that would be the central theme to it. It was like rewinding time back to the old days of undergrad. Things just seemed so much simpler back then, so much more clear-cut and stable and SAFE. So many things seemed to work out so well - friends, roommates, relationships, my future, and of course, my morals. I never really appreciated all the familiar faces and lasting friendships I made back then, surrounded by people who I felt knew and loved me down to my very core. And these people were so close, often an hour's drive or even literally just a living-room away.

Coming back wasn't completely the same, of course. For one thing, I went back to Irvine, which is NOT exactly the same as San Diego, where I had spent the past 4 years. In fact, I have never lived more than a weekend in Irvine in my entire life. Yet, at the same time, entering Irvine was like coming home again. I knew this place, these people, these roads, like the back of my hand. I had never been to the UCI Student Center, but sitting in the comfy armchair with my homework splayed out across my lap, listening to the Korean Christian Fellowship (it HAD to be Korean, of course) while a baby shrieked in the background - it was all so familiar, so RIGHT. I would watch UCI students walking from their UTC during lunch break, students I had never met before, but at the same time, I knew them so well - the familiar conglomeration of Asian students with a sprinkling of other ethnicities, in their blue and yellow UC sweatshirts and flip flops, sipping their boba drinks (boba, NOT bubble tea, and NOT PMT). Even just running along the suburban roads in what would already count as t-shirt weather, roads that I had never before run on but which my feet traveled so confidently, felt so good, so...familiar.

And most of all, there were the people. All the people I've missed so much this past year, the people I've thought about while working in an unfamiliar city along an unfamiliar coast. Staying up late baking pastries, wasting the morning with talks on life and dreams and goals, riding hours in the car while palm trees and riviera-style houses flew by and reminiscing over old times...these were all things I couldn't remember doing for the longest time.

At one point during my trip, I asked my best friend if he thought we could stay best friends. Obviously, we both knew that probably wasn't going to happen, what with all of life's uncertainties ahead of us. But it's okay, because that's how humans are. We aren't static people; we are always changing and growing and developing. What matters is that we allowed bonds to develop between us and the ones we love, and no amount of distance or time will ever completely destroy that bond. It may weaken it, but the fact that it is there, should be enough. And, in the end, it will all be okay.

And that is what I have to keep reminding myself. I don't like change, I've come to realize. Things were so much simpler when my world was the SoCal bubble, and I felt like I knew the world. Turns out, I was just an arrogant, ignorant, oblivious girl. But at least I was happier back then. And going back this time made me realize more than ever how much I've missed that bubble I once called reality.

Of course, realistically speaking, I have to let that go, and accept change whether I want to or not. But, at least I have those memories. And at least, in my mind, I can store my time in a bottle and every once in a while, travel back to those peaceful car rides past the swaying palm trees and stucco houses once again.

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