Change is inevitable – except from a vending machine.
Robert C. Gallagher
After spending a semester in London, the prospect of going back to Santa Clara seemed rather less than glorious. No big city, no fancy flat, no extensive public transportation. I have to admit, I was dubious. Not only was I not living in London, but a good deal of my SCU life was also in the throes of transition. I was moving into a new house, I wouldn’t have a car to escape the Santa Clara bubble with if I needed to, and I was entering into one of the most difficult quarters of my college career. I had a bit of a knot in my stomach when the day came to head back to SCU. Moving into my new house, or my attempt to anyway, didn’t do much to loosen that knot. I spent Saturday morning packing up the car and driving down to my new home. The only hitch was that, upon arriving at the house, I discovered that my subleaser was still living IN my room. Thus, all of his stuff was taking up the space I needed to put my stuff into. On top of that, it was dirty. I may have had a minor conniption in the car. We put my boxes in a pile made depressing by the waning light filtering through the glass of the front door and headed home. As the score stood, it was SCU: 1, Eliza: 0.
The next day saw the dawn of Round 2. Now before I go on, let me explain. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to go back to SCU- I love my friends here, the campus is absurdly gorgeous and after not doing much academically while I was in London, I was excited to get back to my education. It was more a problem of accepting that the dream was over. My four months spent in London had flown by in a giddy parade of wild adventures by day and glamorous nightclubs by night. Santa Clara’s meager offerings looked like a pair of worn and ragged sneakers next to a pair of fresh-off-the-runway Jimmy Choo pumps. I felt I knew Santa Clara and that there was nothing left to explore. To sum it up, I was terrified I was going to be horrendously bored.
Returning back to the moving-in process. That Sunday I scrubbed every inch of the freshly emptied room and moved my things in. Cleaning and moving was an all day job, but when I hung the final piece of decoration (a tapestry given to me by a British actor) on the wall, I felt pretty good about it. The score was equal now at 1-1. It was a step in the right direction in any case.
Something happened yesterday, however, that made me take more than just a step in the right direction. My parents had come down to drop off some things I had left at home and we decided to go out to lunch. On the way over we drove past this large wall that looked like it contained Jurassic park. I was thoroughly intrigued. On the way back, we decided to check it out and, to my surprise, discovered it was a monastery. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t stumbled across it before. Here was this antique, peaceful place with gardens that lay coiled like some slumbering emerald serpent just down the street from me and I had somehow managed to never notice it. Standing in that garden I thought to myself, maybe, just maybe, there is more to explore in Santa Clara than I believe there to be.
I went out to dinner with friends the other night, most of who had also been abroad. As we sat around sharing stories with each other, it occurred to me that we were all going through the same thing. It’s difficult to have an adventure of the kind we did, only to have it end in a return to the old. We have to cage the memories like delicate, gossamer birds lest they fly away out of our reach. We cannot, however, spend all of our time admiring these fluttering snippets of our life. So, we go out into this old world and embrace what we left behind while we were out exploring new territories.
It’s been exactly one week since my return to SCU. There have been moments of desperation, a sort of claustrophobia that comes from moving from a big city to a little one, but they’re outweighed by a new sense of determination I have just recently acquired. There is no way I can ever make life at Santa Clara as exciting as a life in London, but I sure can try my damned hardest to accept the differences and explore this familiar yet new world.