One of my closest friends called recently after a bad breakup. We hadn’t spoken in a few weeks, so when I picked up the phone, I felt that familiar yet uncomfortable sense of separation caused by more than just physical distance.
Some people grapple with their own mortality through meditation, or mountain climbing, or making a pilgrimage to some lost, crumbling temple full of monks. Some do it because they’ve just received a diagnosis of terminal illness or reached their 80th birthday. I just have to step onto a 737.
It is 6 p.m. and I’m sitting with hundreds of fellow equine fanatics in a stadium flanked for miles on either side by farmhouses, wooden fence lines and flat, sandy fields speckled with horses. Many around me wear baseball caps to keep the sinking Florida sun out of their faces; a few had the foresight to bring a blanket for the inevitable temperature drop later tonight, when the stadium will be lit by giant electric flood lights.
During breaks from Princeton, instead of lounging on the couch, I can be found somewhere on Route 95, clutching a Ziploc bag full of carrots and heading to northern Massachusetts with my mother. It’s our ritual—a necessary pilgrimage to visit the members of our family who are too big to live at home with us, but no less loved for it.
Reluctantly back home with my parents two months after deciding to take time off from Princeton, I wasn’t exactly in prime form. My uncontrollably racing mind had left me sleepless for weeks. The process of peeling away the suffocating layers of anxiety accumulated at prep schools and college was proving to be agonizingly slow.
It’s been hard to miss the photos from the “What I Be” project popping up on our newsfeeds and around campus these past weeks: up-close and intensely personal shots of fellow students staring unapologetically into the camera, with their deepest insecurities scrawled onto their skin in capital letters.
“I know myself,” he cried, “but that is all.” -F. Scott Fitzgerald, This Side of Paradise Oh, Francis. If only I could say the same. This last line from a book I recently pulled from the towering stack on my desk … Read More