It’s easy to spot students from the University at any airport. Our flights to different locations awaken a need to let everyone know where exactly we go to school and where we belong.
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The Statement is The Michigan Daily’s weekly news magazine, distributed every Wednesday during the academic year.
So there I was, on the Wednesday evening of Spring Break, camped out at gate 42B tugging at my University sweatshirt, which students are wont to do, and gripping my passport so tightly that my nails were beginning to make indents into the scratchy black cover.
The flight to India had been booked that day: my great-grandmother was sick. Really sick. I’ll spare you the details, but it had reached the point where if I didn’t see her soon, I might never see her again.
Listen, she is 92. Her passing, should it occur, wouldn’t be tragic. The woman had lived through colonialism, a world war and three generations of her family — she’d seen more things and lived more life than anyone I’ve yet to know.
The problem — really, the reason for my constant foot tapping and overall discomfort — was that this was my first time flying to India in four years and it would be my shortest trip yet.
Two days of flying to stay for three days, I remember thinking on both the flights there and back. I would be spending 40 percent of the rest of my Spring Break 30,000 feet above the ground — both nowhere and everywhere.
The last time I was there I hated it. I was young and bored and ignorant, unwilling to understand why things and people were so different and extremely stubborn about changing my perspective on the issue. As far as I was concerned, I didn’t fit in there, which was ironic, really, considering I was born in India.
I’d been making excuses for years to make sure I wouldn’t go back: “I have summer school.” “I can’t take time off of work.” “I have to make sure I’m ready for college.” But this trip was different, mainly because I was different.
I’m in a perpetual limbo, and the spontaneity of my trip back to India came at exactly the right time. A large chunk of my life right now is unplanned. I have no major, no dead-set career plan, no clue what I’ll be doing tomorrow, today, or even five minutes from now.
Many people have a tunnel vision on where they want to go and what they want to do, but … I have nothing.
While I didn’t have any sort of bullshit spiritual awakening Hollywood movies will try to convince you you’ll have when you travel to a new country, I thought more about the conjunction between identification and options.
Stephen Hawking has stated time and time again, in basically every interview I’ve watched, that there exists the concept of an infinite number of parallel universes. There exists a universe where I know what I want, what my major would be, and where my life would be headed.
On the Friday of Spring Break, I remember driving through a roadway near a college district. I was looking out the car window at packs of girls huddled around flower stalls and sitting in coffee shops and I wondered if I would be the same person I am right now if my parents had decided to stay in India.
I’d see a group of college girls headed home, walking home and joking with each other, and get nostalgic about a life I’ve never led.
Would I still prefer strawberries sliced over my cereal? Would my caffeine dependency still exist? Would I still love writing as much as I do right now?
Would I have the same doubts and fears I do now?
I’d like to think that only fragments of my personality would be different and that I, at my core, would remain the same no matter what country I grew up in. Maybe I would still be as lost and insecure as I am right now.
Or maybe I’d have it all figured out.