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» Hatrack River Forum » Archives » Landmark Threads » What's Behind Me, What's Ahead - A Participatory Landmark

   
Author Topic: What's Behind Me, What's Ahead - A Participatory Landmark
erosomniac
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I've gone through hundreds of ideas for a landmark over the past two months. I originally asked a friend to write it for me; I thought it would be interesting for you to see a third party perspective on important aspects of my life, especially events that involve the speaker. Circumstantially, that didn't pan out, and I was back to the drawing board, trying to find something that would be both important for me to write about and interesting/insightful for you all to read about.

It's come down to this. Every time I start drafting a landmark, the central themes are the same: something shapes my life, I change somehow because of it, and I explain why that change has mattered, at all.

What occurs to me is that in the course of my years on Hatrack, I've been a largely impersonal participant. I've never really tried to get to know most of you in any context other than this forum, if that, and I feel like I've missed out on something because of it. Thus, my landmark idea evolved into its current inception.

I'm going to start with a brief anecdote; a quick summarization of something that contributes to why I am the way I am. I'm going to finish with a message to my future self, in the hopes that I can look back on this and say, for once, that I became what I wanted to be and am happy with that. Since landmarks get archived, I'll have no trouble finding this again in a year and seeing how I did.

I'd like you to come with me. For better or for worse.


...


I've never been much for telling anything other than humorous stories about myself; my odd blend of egocentrism and trained modesty makes it difficult. Bear with me.

I've noticed people growing up in a small town tend to react one of two ways: they crystallize, or by the time they're getting ready to leave high school, the urge to find someplace new, someplace devoid of familiarity is so strong they fling themselves to the farthest reaches of their subjective spheres, many times bursting through the semi-permeable barrier and rocketing as far away as possible from the place that, for most of their lives, they called home.

My case was the latter.

People who grew up in Hawaii, Alaska or in other isolated conditions will understand best what I mean, but growing up on Oahu intensified this pseudo-wanderlust to borderline breaking. By the time I was 18, I couldn't go anyplace without recognizing at least one person. There was no where on the island to hide from the encroaching familiarity, the sound of settling, the overwhelming scent of home that only absence lets you appreciate.

So when the University of Rochester inexplicably offered me a $10,000/year scholarship to their otherwise prohibitively expensive school, I took it and in the next few months found myself in upstate New York; a place which, geographically and culturally, could not be farther from home (and still in the U.S.).

It was beautiful; it was bizarre. There were too many new things at once to adjust to, and they came at me like a frenzied mob: I'm newly independent but still incredibly homesick, stuck in a place where for once it's obvious I'm asian and that's weird, everyone around me is jewish or black or indian and I have practically no experience with any of these ethnicities prior, why is race suddenly such a big deal?, I have to take care of all my own meals without the benefit of my parents' twice-weekly costco trips, I can't borrow a parent's car to do anything, it's getting incredibly cold (temperatures lower than 55 degrees? Temperatures lower than zero?), I have exactly half of one room to store everything important to me, no one is making sure I go to classes, no one is making sure I shower and shave every day, no one is making sure I don't get drunk and sleep with fifteen different girls or try eight new kinds of drugs, I can stay out all night and sleep in all day, I can't get sticky white rice at every restaurant anymore, mainlanders are generally nicer than everyone led me to believe they are, holy crap I have a lot of prejudices to get over!, I have no friends, I have too many almost-friends, I have a meal plan that forces me to plan my diet, I'm actively loving life.

But the combination of loneliness, selfishness, and my inability to accept so many changes at once sent me packing after only a year (and to those that change hurt - one specifically that I know will read this - I'll never stop being sorry).

So I left, and moved to Seattle, and over the past four years here I've made an entire new set of friends, started my own businesses, watched one succeed one not, fallen in love, fallen out of it, and generally grown to love the Pacific Northwest. I've learned a lot about what it means to be responsible (as I haven't returned to my undergraduate education yet), and I think I've become a better person, although I'll leave it to those around me to be the judge of that. I hope I've made a positive difference in the lives of the people around me. If nothing else, I'll settle for being remembered.

To the Future Andrew: Remember what's important to you, and don't compromise on your way to achieving it. Remember that the people around you are the people you chose to have there. Don't regret decisions you make, no matter how bad they seem at the time.

I hope you're in school again. I hope you're on your way to that double in finance & econ. I hope you're not lonely anymore; I hope you've moved on. I hope you've found a way to contribute to the world, and if not the world, to Seattle.

More than all this, I hope you're happy.


...


Like I said, I want you on this journey with me. I want others standing with me as we reach for our futures with eager hands, rather than watching steadily as they flow into, through and behind us. If you'd like to share, please do so. Please contribute to my landmark.

Posts: 4313 | Registered: Sep 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Stephan
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Thanks for sharing, I was pleasantly surprised to see you didn't go all the way back home. That is where I thought you were going with your landmark.
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BlackBlade
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Just wait until you find your way outside the US. It gets even WIERDER.

I can appreciate so much of what you said, I felt the same way at 21 when I moved to the US after living in Asia 17 years. My best friend lived with a polynesian. When they went to IHOP he would premptively cook some sticky rice and bring it to the restaurant because he HAD to have rice with every meal. Awesome IMO [Wink]

Thanks so much for sharing, I greatly enjoyed hearing your story.

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Samprimary
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[Smile]
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MyrddinFyre
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[Smile] Really enjoyed reading that. I love the Pacific Northwest, I don't see how anyone could not. It is where I am aiming to get a job, if not in Boston (my other love).
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Dr Strangelove
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Finally stopped dodging [Wink] . About time. Excellent Landmark.
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El JT de Spang
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Good stuff. I was/am much the same way, as far as the impersonal participant goes. I managed to mostly get over that as I got to know some of the people around here elsewhere. But I still put less of myself out in the open here, mainly because there are posters here I flat out do not want knowing anything about me.

One of the most important things I've learned at hatrack is that the people I like the best here aren't the people I agree with, or even the ones who agree with me. They're the people who disagree, but for reasons I have no problem understanding. You and I haven't always agreed (though moreso lately, I think), but I usually can see where you're coming from.

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Squish
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[Smile]
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Uprooted
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Hey, eros, that was a great landmark. So will you update in a year to let us know how you're doing on your journey?
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JennaDean
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I loved this part, it sounded like my eye-opening first year at college:
quote:
I have to take care of all my own meals without the benefit of my parents' twice-weekly costco trips, I can't borrow a parent's car to do anything, it's getting incredibly cold (temperatures lower than 55 degrees? Temperatures lower than zero?), I have exactly half of one room to store everything important to me, no one is making sure I go to classes, no one is making sure I shower and shave every day, no one is making sure I don't get drunk and sleep with fifteen different girls {uh ... I'd make that boys} or try eight new kinds of drugs, I can stay out all night and sleep in all day, ... holy crap I have a lot of prejudices to get over!
And to think I had my eyes opened at BYU! What would've happened had I gone to New York!

Enjoyed your landmark, eros. Good to see you back. [Smile]

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