Thursday, February 26, 2009

I tried dancing on a Saturday night just to see what the fuss was about

Let me get this straight from the outset. I like dating. I like the possibility of a held hand; the anticipation of intimacy. And to be honest this blind date was not bad on the scale of blind dates. However, I was slightly at a loss to discover that this youngish man does not drink coffee or alchohol, or enjoy movies or food. It is always a bad sign when you're drinking coffee and he's drinking white hot chocolate on a first date. This man eats to stave hunger and he sleeps so as not to be tired. He seems utterly uninterested in exploring the world as it is. His saving grace is his British sense of humor and his obvious enthusiasm for English literature, which he studies. If a man has no vices, he should at least have a passion, or three. There should be a hint of something under his skin. We sat there for a few hours, chatting and I found myself wondering, despite our pleasant conversation, if this is really where I want to be at 7:30 on a Thursday night. Can my life be reduced to a life of the mind augmented by hot chocolate? Is this who I am?
This is obviously about more than just this one date. It is a question I have been asking myself as I am approaching the end of my thesis. I will soon have to make a decision as to whether I want to continue on to a PhD and stay within the confines of the academy. As odd as this is to say aloud, my thesis has been my friend for the past two years and academia my home since I started my schooling. I'm good at it. I always have been. After all, I went to a university where the cultivation of life of the mind is the prime objective; where the t-shirts read "that's all good and fine in practice, but how does it work in theory?" and I thrived there. And yet, I have been feeling lately that I want to do something else; something more visceral and palpable. I want to cook in restaurant kitchen, to open doors to other worlds with food; to watch the eyes of a child light up as they find Middle Earth; I want to feel the slick velvet oil of a horse's hide through my fingers; to come home dirty and grimy and aching with sun and a hurt that reminds me of my body's existence. I want to earn my money by the sweat of my brow and not the grace of a university donor.
And yes, I know, joining the academic world does not negate the possibilities of any of these endeavors. And yes, I know it to be a truth about myself, that like the young man I went out with, I am happiest where I am comfortable; where I know the language, the code of behavior and I don't often venture outside the realm of the already known. But there is another part of me as well. It is the part of me that revels in new places; in taking an experience into myself and walking the world with it;. It is the part of me that wants to be in Paris in early morning light and mist; to learn to dance Flamenco like I saw in Madrid and to ride a rodeo in the shadow of the Grand Tetons in Wyoming. It is the part of me in sitting in a bar, waiting for the "hey, baby, can I buy you a drink?"
So whoever you are, I want you to come, walk this world with me.

Thesis Watch: Still at page 68

Book Rec: A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley


Anonymous said...


Rogue Unicorn said...

I hope not. The army and I would disagree violently.
Welcome, whoever you are