I haven’t had time to write. I haven’t had time to think. Only enough time to sleep, eat, drink, pretend to do schoolwork and vigorously prepare for the future. It’s that constant preperation that worries me. On any given day I feel as though I am either fondly daydreaming of the past or anxiously writing essays and trying to portray my future self. The past and the future swirl together like oil and water, so that little bubbles of each touch and bounce on the plate, but they never really come together. I began to wonder, am I neglecting my present? Nearly as soon as I finish something, be it a meal, an evening out, or a phase of my life, I’m eagerly reaching my arms out to hold it again, to feel it again. Is this any way to live?
I’m constantly nostalgic for the time I spent abroad in Sevilla, the summer I spent in New York City, the simpler times when all of my meals were ready and waiting for me at Delta Gamma, or when I had the energy of a freshman, ready to tackle any intellectual challenge that presented itself. And now I have to harness those experiences and turn them into essays and personal statements. I have to convert my memories into cohesive arguments for strangers who will decide what I am going to do with my future. Nostalgia takes hold of me like a bad stomach ache, twisting itself into knots that weave in and out of me and around my heart, until I’m emotionally exhausted. It blinds me and pains me until I can’t think of anything else but that past time when I was happy, satisfied and less stressed. I spend hours looking through old pictures and telling stories with those friends who were there, attempting to relive those moments. In life we become storytellers naturally so that we’re almost always talking in past tense: “How was your week? Tell me about last night? What did you do? How did you feel?” And then it hit me. I need to take more time to acknowledge how I’m feeling at the exact moment of action, acknowledging the right now. I often feel guilty about being overwhelmingly nostalgic for the happiest times of my short life. That’s the wrong attitude. When I need to, I will politely ask the past if I can have this dance, and I will take his hand tight and we’ll waltz for a little. I’ll pull him close to me and I’ll stare into his intoxicating eyes until I’ve lost myself for a little. We’ll go round and round, we’ll smile through all of the emergent crescendos and every beautiful spin. But the song will always come to an end and it will be time to find a new partner. And that partner is the present. I hear he’s an even better dancer than the past.