Now and Then

Yesterday, I went with George and several others to the Gilroy Garlic Festival. Not wanting to miss out on something different, I was very excited to find out exactly what “sub-culture” surrounds garlic. The event ended up being more of a general fair for the town of Gilroy, though I did watch Andrea Froncillo, the head chef of the Stinking Rose, do a cooking show. He showed off a soup covered with puff pastry, baby back ribs, and seafood in the typical style of the all-garlic menu of the Stinking Rose.

But before we went out, our car had to stop at Tressider Student Union for the ATM. While there, I saw a group of high school students head for the “Jamba Juice.” I laughed and commented to my friend that I never pass Tressider without seeing high school students swarming around the “Jamba Juice.” He laughed, but quickly pointed out (paraphrased), “What are you talking about? You’re only one year older than them!” Since they’re probably not graduated seniors, I’m actually two years older than them, thank you very much.

You’re probably groaning at the prospect of another “high school v. college” post, but it’s amazing how much I’ve distanced myself from that. Walking around Palo Alto, the high school students are easily distinguished from everyone else (likely as much as my friends and I are easily distinguished as college students), and I do see them as something different from them.

It’s hard to say how much that’s been an actual effort on my part to affiliate myself with a new group. I didn’t become a different person when I arrived on Stanford campus, but I’ve adapted and suited myself to a different culture, different feel, different priorities. While I was waiting for “The Dark Knight” to begin, I listened to three students behind me gossip. From topics such as classes during the same “period” and what their parents allowed and didn’t allow them to do, I quickly tagged them as high school students. And while their concerns seemed petty (likely as much as mine do to an adult), I smiled and enjoyed eavesdropping and re-experiencing the trials of high school life.

Highlights of high school haven’t completely disappeared either. About a week ago, George and I went to a card shop a couple towns over to buy Magic cards. We arrived as people participated in Friday Night Magic, a sanctioned event held in hobby shops all over the world. The shop was slightly smaller than the one in Katy, but the aging tables, fold-out tables, random drink cans, poor lighting, mostly grade-school aged kids, and obscene excitement over words printed on cardstock felt just the same. Magic obviously isn’t a high school thing, but this aspect of my life was entirely contained within my high school experiences. And among those high school and middle school students, everything was more familiar than I had thought.

Living with someone is a huge opportunity to get to know someone else a lot better. While cooking and sitting around, George and I cover the full array of small-talk. We talk a lot about our past and experiences, but it seems like everything gravitates towards our recent high school ones, like band and debate. In many ways, I do try to separate myself from that high school image, but I actually do miss a lot of it. While I speak of it fondly, I’ll still laugh at the high school kids. Though maybe it’s not so much ridicule, but intense familiarity.

One reply on “Now and Then”

A lot of personal development comes from meeting new people and being immersed in new ideas. After you leave school — and that time will vary, depending on how much grad school you can stand — the curve flattens out, and stagnation can set in.

Adam and I just returned from a week at the ISSS meeting in Madison, which is an annual event where ideas continue to flow. I always get some new ideas there. Adam was totally immersed in the content — I decided to let him find things that were interesting to him, rather than directing him — and he says that he now knows what he doesn’t know.

I find that a lot of the people really plateau after they leave university. Everyone’s lives get busy with jobs and family, so it becomes an active choice — rather than a structured curriculum — about whether we choose to continue to seek new ideas and people.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *