Friday, November 12, 2010

Item: Today I received an email from my thesis advisor, asking how my career transition is going.  He thought of me, he says, because the group went out for lunch to celebrate the graduation of the last person I knew.   We only overlapped by a year and we've long since fallen out of touch (although I may send her a congratulatory email) but it was odd to hear.  Usually people say that can't believe something has happened already; in New York it's particularly popular to claim shock at one's own advanced age.  But I feel the opposite.  I've lived in two cities and had three jobs, written a couple of bad, unpublished novels, run a marathon and two halfs, seen most of the major tourist attractions of New York, made and lost friends, been to five foreign countries, braved a career change and had dozens of major fights with my mother and been dumped by any number of men, and all that time she was in grad school?  Really?  It's not that she spent a unusual number of years in grad school - she didn't - or that I think her life is any less eventful than mine.  I just don't know her events, and when I look back up my own life it seems like it has been, for the most part, much more eventful in the years since my PhD than in the years I was earning it.

Other Item:  Currently visiting New York is the man formerly known as the IB.  He is here with a friend of his, to see a show.  I saw him yesterday and enjoyed his company, and I am going to see him again on Saturday.  He is doing well: he has lost weight and grown a goatee, which looks unexpectedly good on him, and he is succeeding professionally.  But he is sad, because he is alone, and he doesn't want to be, and the town he has to live in to do his work is making it hard for him to meet a woman he wants to be with.  I feel bad for him, in a kind of abstract way.  But, also - for a long time I wanted to be with him, to varying degrees, and it never worked out, and a significant part of the reason for it was his inability or unwillingness to be serious enough about anything for it to gel.  It was never that he didn't like me or didn't find the idea of being with me appealing, but there was always something that appealed to him more than returning my calls or getting on an airplane or doing whatever it was going to take.  It's true that usually this thing that appealed more was his job, or simply laziness, and also that I was not ever so terribly organized about the whole thing, but I felt disappointed by him a number of times.  And eventually - not because of him so much as because of growing up - I learned how to be happy alone, at least to a much greater extent than he has, and I stopped taking seriously his periodic declarations of intent.  Which I think he realized at some point and more or less stopped making.  And, well, it is just sad, because the person he is now and the person I was a few years ago might have really made a go of it.

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