Location: Vienna, Virginia, United States

A graduate of Dartmouth College (2005) and Washington and Lee University School of Law (2010). These are my personal blogs, and the musings expressed on them do not reflect the positions of my employer. They do reflect my readings, thoughts, and aspirations, which I figure is good enough.

Monday, February 26, 2007


It's tough sometimes. It's tough a lot of the time. I'm keeping myself pretty well occupied these days, between getting myself in shape, learning guitar and reading more, but somehow, it makes the times when I'm not doing anything worse.

Because those are the times, the lulls in activity, when I can't seem to help but let various memories and thoughts and insecurities get to me. Not that I think I can or should outrun my own mind, but for some reason it's the instinct I have right now.

So instead of running from my thoughts, I figure that's what I have this blog for, right?

Either I'm baring my soul to random people who stumble onto my site searching for pictures of American McGee's Alice or Brian McCann (for some reason those are my top hits) or I'm shouting into a void, impotently venting my anger and fears through words which reach no one, doomed to drift meaningless into empty space where they'll disperse among all the other words on the internet until they lose all impetus and energy. Both alternatives seem better to me at the moment than sitting quietly in the dark and driving myself to distraction.

Darkness is at the same time a curse and a blessing. When you're alone, it's a crushing weight, reminding you of your mortality and your insecurity and your fear. Tolkien said it pretty well when he wrote about Eowyn whispering words to herself in the dark, as the walls of her bower closed in around her. It's a time to think and reflect, and at times, it can be horrible. You become intensely aware of what is lacking around you. Light. Heat. Comfort.

But then when you have someone else there, it shifts the opposite way. You have someone to hold in the dark, and it doesn't seem so bad. In fact, it contributes to the moments, the words that pass between you. No longer alone, you feel warmth and comfort, and you feel secure that there's something more tangible than just you in the room. Even something more tangible than the other person. Call it love. Call it the heat you can feel emanating from them, or the sound of someone breathing besides yourself. Call it the knowledge that when you wake up, the sun will be shining and there's going to be someone next to you.

I miss that. A lot. I don't know how much the need for comfort drove Jen and me together freshman year of college, but there was something wonderfully intimate about lying there in the dark in a tiny cramped dorm room, telling each other stories and hopes, filling the void. And it wasn't just that darkness, the one in the dorm room, which we filled. We took a lot of walks at night. Even after freshman year. If I were to wax poetic, I would venture that Jen and I made a habit of filling the darkness of the New Hampshire night with ourselves and our words. Out there in the dark, we were more like a single unit than two separate individuals, as if the darkness pushed us together and brought us closer. (As I write this, I'm thinking about the song from "Hedwig and the Angry Inch" - "The Origin of Love.")

When she lived on Mass Row, and I was in an apartment on the other side of campus, I'd walk out of her dorm at 2:00 AM after talking for hours and/or studying for hours (though usually talking) and make my way back across campus. But even though I walked back alone, cold, in knee-deep snow, my thoughts were with her, and remembering our conversations, and it was a wonderful exercise, walking and contemplating.

We liked to go out, usually into the cold, fresh Hanover air, bundled up, hand in hand, and we'd walk. Sometimes we'd have a set path. Out the dorm near the river, past the business school, and around the Green and through town. It changed from year to year, but the intent was usually similar. Walking through town always meant picking up a hot drink at the Dirt Cowboy Cafe - a cup of Ethiopian Yirgacheffe coffee for me, and a medium soy chai for her.

Sometimes we'd stop at the end of Main Street to pick up a movie, and then loop back around the Green and past the Biology building on the edge of campus, and just walk further out, exploring the darkness together, until houses became further apart and set further back from the road as we hit the back country. I'd complain about it, not knowing where we were going, but there was nowhere else I would rather have been than wherever we were walking.

Once, we had walked for a few miles along the deserted road without a car passing us by for almost half an hour, and we felt comfortable enough to walk down the middle of the road. It started snowing lightly, a dusting that soon stuck to the road, reflecting the moonlight. At one point, I thought I saw what looked to be a two story house, well lit, close to the road, which was strange because most of the properties were large lots with long driveways, houses back almost in the woods. But as we drew closer, we realized that it was a huge doll house in someone's front yard. It was a surreal moment.

We used to walk by a light near the Biology building that would flicker on and off seemingly each time we passed it by. We would joke that manipulating that light was one of Jen's super mutant powers. If we had gotten a movie, we might stop by the 24 hour campus store and pick up a pint of ice cream. More often than not it was Ben and Jerry's Chunky Munkey. I'll write about all the movies we watched together at some time, but the list grew to be pretty prodigious and diverse.

Other times we would walk out past Hanover high school to the Food CoOp, and as long as it wasn't closed, we'd browse. Maybe buy some things for breakfast or one of those fridgepacks of Diet Coke (I'd always carry those back).

Once we picked up some apples for our Sunday Baking Crew (we made various baked goods on Sunday with a couple friends, just as a means of having fun together and socializing), and Jen decided to take a little detour on the way back.

It turned out to be a pretty long detour, as we walked off the road and down a trail that led off into the woods. We walked for a long time, and I was actually getting kind of worried as it was getting dark, and there I was, a brown paper bag of apples in my hands, sneakers slipping periodically in the snow as we walked up and down hills, with no flashlight and little moonlight filtering through the trees. We probably could have taken a wrong turn somewhere and spent the night wandering around.

Instead, we eventually found ourselves sighting the Connecticut River in the distance, and as we looped around, we realized that we had taken a huge loop around campus, around the back of Occam Pond. By the time we finally got to the path circling the pond and back to campus, it was about 10 PM. We'd been out for more than five hours, walking for more than three, probably close to four and when I checked my campus map after breathlessly stumbling back into the warmth of the dorm, we realized that we had walked off the map on the left side and come back onto it somewhere on the right.

I think that without each other, those situations would have been kind of frightening. As it was, it was barely off-putting; we knew that no matter what, even if we were horrendously lost, the worst case scenario was that we would spend the night shivering next to each other and talking and telling stories in the dark. And there was nothing even remotely objectionable about that.


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