tangled lives

‘Thank you, whatever comes.’ And then she turned
And, as the ray of sun on hanging flowers
Fades when the wind hath lifted them aside,
Went swiftly from me. Nay, whatever comes
One hour was sunlit and the most high gods
May not make boast of any better thing
Than to have watched that hour as it passed.

Ezra Pound

I’m about to graduate from college. Tomorrow, at 10 am, I will cross the stage, get my diploma, and pack up my apartment. I’m done.

I’ve been trying to say goodbye to all the people and places that have touched me over the last three years. The past couple of weeks have been packed with coffee catch-ups, frozen yogurt dates, late nights on the terrace, and a few stressful finals, and it has been much harder than I expected to let go of the city I’m so familiar with. I feel loved here as much as I love being here. Maybe that’s why I know in my heart of hearts that I am 100% ready to move on – I’m comfortable, but I don’t want to be comfortable for too long. As I attempt to gain closure and tie up loose ends, I’ve realized that wherever people are, whatever they’re doing, they connect in special ways. All of us, we end up attached to the people and places around us, however ordinary or mundane they might seem, by dozens of threads. They tie us to memories, relationships, rooms, coworkers, friends, mentors, tastes, sights, buildings, dreams, and plans. One thread by itself is just a pleasant reminder that you belong, but all together, these connections create a rope that ties you to the place you’ve come to call home. We all have these ropes, in some form or another, and they’re a good thing. They make us feel like we belong, create bonds of loyalty and fraternity, and, ultimately, I believe it is these connections that make us happy in the long term. I’m about to move on though in a big way, and in order to do so, I’ve got to cut my rope. I’m not cutting it completely. I’ll always be friends with some of the people I’ve known here, and even if I’m not, I’ll carry them with me always. But I’ve got to go. I’ve got to cut myself loose of the home I’ve come to know so that I can move on deliberately, facing forward, without regrets. So I’ve begun to deal with my strings. Some of them don’t go very deep; you can just give them a tug or two and they slide free without much heartache. Others are a bit more difficult, they take more time, and they might snag a bit on the way out. Some, though, go so deep that you can’t find the beginning. It has nothing to do with time but with depth of connection. Our lives become so intertwined and interdependent that there’s just no possibility of untangling them. They don’t come free and sometimes you have to cut them instead. Those are the goodbyes that hurt, and I’ve had a few. I have more to come.

I packed up my room today. The room I’ve shared with my best friend (a level, by the way, not a singular pedestal) and confidant, Jackie, for three years now. After I took everything down and packed everything up, I looked around and was struck by the way it seemed my missing stuff made swiss cheese of our collective space. It wasn’t my stuff on one side, now empty, and hers on the other. Our belongings, like our lives, had mixed together and twisted around each other so thoroughly that at places it was hard to separate the two. I am lucky to say that I have quite a few people I could say that about. And those goodbyes will be hard. Our lives don’t stay separate and distinct for long. We are not meant to be solitary creatures. As the Dalai Llama said when I saw him speak on Wednesday, we are social animals. Our lives tangle with those around us until the connection strings that tie us together will never come fully apart. It may make moving on harder, but I can’t be anything but grateful.

I’m about to start a new, extremely exciting chapter of my life, and I couldn’t be looking forward to it more. I wouldn’t be who I am today, doing what I’m doing, without the people I’ve met along the way and the lives that have tangled with mine. In the words of Ezra Pound, “thank you, whatever comes.”

Now, forward.


7 thoughts on “tangled lives

  1. Congratulations! Good luck! Reach for the clouds! But, I don’t think you are done yet. Far from it.. You have just begun! (But could you add a little bit more contrast to your text, so that my (slightly) older eyes could read it a little more easily next time?)

  2. I remember walking across that same stage not too long ago, and all I can say is: take a moment, or even just a breath, and look around cause it is a sight that you will want to cement in your memory forever. Oh, and also you will need to spell Kihslinger phonetically so take your time and get it right 😉

  3. Mckenzie Polacheck

    Em, this post was amazing! I know nothing but wonderful things lie ahead for you and I am so excited to follow where you’re going. Love you, and congratulations on your graduation tomorrow! 🙂

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