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Why do people fall out of love? I write that in my notebook at Tokyo Haneda International Airport. It’s a lofty question to be asking myself at 6:00 a.m., when, beyond the concrete slabs of runway, a city is just beginning to wake up.
After finals ended, I was ready for a break from Harvard. I packed my bags and boarded a plane back to Georgia, the place that for eight years I had called home. I was ready to celebrate the holidays, spend quality time with family and friends, and catch up on sleep without worrying about looming deadlines for papers, psets, or tests.
What did I do when my hometown got hit with its coldest week in 23 years? I put on a long-sleeve T-shirt. Like any good Angelino, when the temperature dropped to 40, I headed to the airport. It wasn’t an instinctive reaction or an impulsive decision—although that would make for a better story—but after a great deal of planning, 12 hours of travel, and several bad airplane sandwiches, I landed in St. Maarten.
My grandmother lost her ring on the dog path yesterday, which is why I’m ferreting through bushes, poking with a stick through dog poop and bits of plastic and one empty condom packet. (Public sex among the retired must be on the rise.)
Rolling her head back against the driver’s seat and snapping her gum, M asked the question that had been ricocheting through the air since we all came home from college: “Where should we go?”
On weekend afternoons in cafes over lattes or weeknights over drinks during the semester, I’d often put lecture notes aside to share my half-joke revelation about how to best savor time at Harvard: books, I declared, would always be here, but the electricity of connection between people around us is only now.
Then the dust got so bad in the winter you had to do the floors every day, twice a day, grime thick on the table, my laptop, our books. I hardly left the boys’ place. Woke with my mouth glued open and my nostrils dry, construction workers banging across the way. Deep in the night (and we all crashed at their apartment in a last study binge, kept jagged hours in the sore-throat tipsy-sunny early December, scrambling to get papers done) the watchmen knocked their staffs against the bone ground calling jaagte raho! jaagte raho!—stay awake!—striding in tandem like the ladies that power-walked together every day down the streets of my New Jersey housing development.
If someone had told twelve-year old me that I would someday voluntarily join a dog sledding trip in January in Maine, I would have put down my cold medicine next to my three inhalers and wheeze-laughed until I cried. If someone had told fifteen-year-old me that I would someday voluntarily wake at 6:30 a.m. to shovel dog shit, I would have rolled over in bed and asked for ten more minutes.
When I tell people I’m from Alaska, I get a variety of responses from “You must get a lot of snow!” to “Doesn’t it get dark there all the time?” to “Do you have penguins?”. I’m not kidding about these. I’ve heard them all, and more. Alaska has such a distinct character that most people feel they’re well acquainted with the “Last Frontier.” Unfortunately, this acquaintance often seems to stem from a regrettable combination of Sarah Palin and TLC.
I’m kind of addicted to sadness. Just the other day I was staring at the Pacific Ocean’s dirty-window sheen, discussing the futility of marriage and ambling down a beach strewn with scrappy shrubs and barely-clothed people. (No matter the weather, no matter the Ugg boots, Southern Californians always seem a little bit naked.)
It was an outrageously funny but simultaneously frightening moment, which in retrospect seems to be the kind of thing you secretly hope for when you travel far away from home.
For the second time this year, administrators have curtailed operations in the face of a major snow storm, this time cancelling Wintersession events and Extension School classes.
The end of the semester is a stressful time, and we all need to remember to relax every now and then. Flyby is here to help! This is the sixth installment in our Seven Days of Reading Period series, inspired by "The Twelve Days of Christmas." Stay tuned for more!
In March 2004, Harvard’s Calendar Reform Committee released a report recommending that the Faculty of Arts and Sciences move exams to before winter break. Gone would be the days of returning to campus for final exams barely a day after the ball dropped for the new year. Instead, FAS would allow for 62 days of classes each semester, five to eight days of reading period, and eight days for exams. It was suggested the longer winter break this schedule opened up could potentially house its own mini-term.