February 10, 2016

Southern Florida, Days 2 and 3: Miami

college travel style florida
Cardi, Burlington Coat Factory | Button-down, thrifted Ralph Lauren | Skirt, H&M | Boots, Marshall's
choices kitchen miami florida
outfits for the beach
outfits for the beach
outfits for the beach
Cardi, Burlington Coat Factory | Swimsuit, Target (separates) | Hat, China
st. bernard de clairvaux monastery

I eagerly grabbed the salad from the fridge, but my heart immediately sank: the greens were drenched in ranch dressing and coated in cheese. 

"I can't eat this, mom and dad. I'm really sorry."

I felt awful. 

Because of my vegan tendencies, I had to resign to a meal of appetizers at the upbeat seafood joint where my family had eaten dinner. After black beans and rice, grilled veggies, and guacamole, I still felt unsatisfied. I remarked that I craved a salad, and thought nothing more of it. 

So when my parents returned from their nightly walk with a salad, I was touched. But that warmth soon pooled into guilt. My parents had gone out of their way to get me more food, and I couldn't even eat it. I felt bad that I was so particular. I felt bad that my preferences diverged so greatly from those of my family. I felt bad that we no longer knew each other as well as before.

The longer I'm away at school, the more home feels like placeholder, a pause on actual life, a layover. It is a transient space in-between, and I am suspended in its ambiguity. 

I am a guest in my own family, an inconsistent mentor to my younger brother, a mere coffee date to old friends, another nomadic soul inhabiting Ohio, a disappearing act. 

I am suspended in ambiguity even away from home--the vague connections trail me, and my family's trip to Florida was no exception. That night, at a hotel in Key Largo, I realized how distant I'd grown to my upbringing. I realized how fleeting and tenuous meaningful relationships could be.

In my reading today for class, I stumbled upon a quotation that couldn't be more pertinent:

"To live as if everything around you were temporary and perhaps trivial is to fall prey to petulant cynicism as well as to querulous lovelessness" (Edward Said, Reflections on Exile).

Nearly everything is transient, but transience doesn't compromise the meaningfulness of the moments, links, processes themselves. I may only have a couple months with my family each year, I may no longer be a part of my friends' immediate lives, I may feel lost in the mélange of divergent experiences, but I am so grateful. I am grateful for my family's flexibility and support (Florida-wise, they tolerated quite a few pretentious meals at vegan eateries and offbeat expeditions). I am grateful to have grown closer to my brother. I am grateful to share a slice, however small, of my friends' experiences. I am grateful for the opportunity to nuture and recreate resonant connections.

Back at school, I am grateful as well. Life is fleeting and challenging regardless of my location, and I will continue to seek vibrant moments.

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