I have a birthday coming up in two weeks. This seems significant to me at this moment, as I sit in a dorm room at UCLA for a writer’s conference. Because it strikes me that, the older I get, the more I stay the same.
Take tonight, for instance. I am alone in my room, two twin beds divided by a low bureau, a desk on either side of the beds. I am stretched out in my sweats, my laptop on my legs, books strewn all about me. I am working on a final paper for grad school. When I was an undergrad, I would have been sitting at my desk, clacking away on typewriter keys, but the scene is otherwise identical to my undergrad days.
Shockingly, so are my thought processes.
My paper is due on Monday. I knew going into this weekend that I’d have a few precious pockets of time to finish the lengthy project. Returning from dinner, I glanced at my desk ready to start my work. Then I noticed the television. I’ll just see what’s on. One show. I sat on a bed two eighteen inches from the television (there is no other way in a dorm room) and flipped through the channels. Write the paper the adult-me scolded.
I snapped off the tv and grabbed my journal. I wanted to clear those pesky thoughts that cumulated on my six-hour drive south. A handmade card fell out., and the words Running to You,” were crooked across the heavy paper. Olivia had hand-stamped and drawn it two weeks ago, and I loved it, just as I loved coming upon it unexpectedly.
It made me miss my sweet daughter, so I called her (never mind that I had spoken to her only two hours earlier). After our brief chat, I was really ready to hunker down and get to work. I filed my nails. I ate half a cookie I packed from the Commons earlier. Then I went to my laptop.
The paper started to come together. Sections formed themselves, and the text flowed. It was a great half-hour –until I heard a crowd of kids outside. I feel like going out, I thought to myself, shocked at my regressed response. In college, I would have talked my roommate into abandoning our studies immediately. “If we just sit here thinking that we will go out after we study, we’ll be so distracted we won’t be able to concentrate.”
“Hmmm,” she would say. “It does make sense…..”
In school I recently studied how our environment – our place – is integral to our behaviors, feelings and perspectives. I can testify to that about dorm rooms. I fully blame the worn desks and two twin beds jammed near closet doors and the scrunched living quarters for my regression. But I can’t get into it right now. I’ve got to get back to my paper– which I really do love writing.
As soon as I go to my website and enter this post.