Fingers in the Current

I'm sitting on the second floor of a Caffe Nero, overlooking a brick-paved shopping area that ends on a beautiful park. It's not quite the charming country spaces or the splendid architecture of the Cambridge colleges, but it's still a very English scene to me. Meanwhile, I scroll my Facebook wall to see pictures of American friends, news items from American politics, and status updates about the weather back home. I feel like Harry looking into the Pensieve: suddenly swept into another world, from which the return is a shock of ice water. One moment, my mind is tracing the streets of Media, the next, it's taking in a scene set a thousand miles away. So close, so far away.

Every stage of this journey has brought its own challenges, from overcoming fear of the unknown to venture forth and try new things, to traveling and appreciating the people and the sights beyond exhaustion, to enduring through the mental weariness of the final few months. The emotions run wild, following their own curves and spikes to make no day like the last. And now, I cannot simply nestle into my surroundings, locked in a present filled with delight and wonder. There are tomorrows to be faced, and the tomorrow is rapidly approaching when this will not be my home.

It's hard to figure out how to live in this moment. Do I start reaching out to friends back home, making plans with them and locating all of my hopes there? Do I begin the long, slow process of withdrawing my heart from this place that I've come to know and appreciate? The underlying question: how to balance the tensions, when I am homesick for Pennsylvania and lovesick for England.

But there is no simple way to reply. This moment's answer does not always hold in the next. And that's the project and the game. Being able to live in the present, fully and fiercely, and being able to adapt to the demands that each situation brings. Not giving up or hiding in my room for the next seven weeks in an attempt to cushion the pain of farewell, but not throwing myself so wholeheartedly into these weeks that I fail to provide for the return journey. Life doesn't stop, and in its unstoppable unfolding, we have two choices. To live in one mode, one time, and thereby cheat ourselves of the full richness of experience, or to embrace complexity and dwell in all times, allowing each day, each judgment to be informed by a past that's unforgettable, a present that's unrepeatable, and future that's unavoidable.

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