Old Friends

(Quick aside: is coming along nicely. I just threw up a cheap little demo app called shoutbox, where you can type in whatever you want and see another random thing someone else has put in there. If you wouldn’t mind taking a second to write something so that my debug entries will pop up less frequently, that would be greatly appreciated)

I’ve been on break this entire week and will be headed back to Stanford tomorrow night. Since my next return isn’t set, and might not be for a long time, I made a particular effort to see people on this break.

Tuesday afternoon, I headed up to Austin to visit my sister and friends, and meet my Stanford friend Ben who was visiting his sister. Trips to Austin are always fun, because it’s the first “distant” sphere. I previously wrote about the spheres of places, roughly broken into local, car trip, and plane ride. Austin is close enough that it isn’t a major obstacle to drive, but far enough that it actually requires packing and planning.

More significant to me, the trip was also the intersection of almost two different lives that I have. After I graduated from high school and was waiting to leave for Stanford, it seemed shocking that there were still kids going to high school. Since my class had moved on, I somewhat figured that the rest of that world has frozen and that no one else should be going to high school either. Similarly, when I’m at college, it’s somewhat shocking to think there are people living in real houses, eating non-dining hall food, going to Wal-Mart. Since my dormmates and I are all in dorms, I figured the rest of the world must be in a similar situation as well.

So Ben is very much a part of my college life, with Super Smash Bros. and communal baths. When I did the bad thing of hanging out with both him and high school friends simultaneously in Austin, I was in some sense surprised that the universe didn’t explode. The amiability of Ben with people like Grant and Michael reassured me that I hadn’t created two completely separate lives with radically different friends with radically different expectations of me.

In addition to seeing UT friends, I met up with my high school tuba section last weekend at the Houston Rodeo. And just yesterday, I went up to Rice to visit my friends there. Thinking about these encounters, I realize that a common topic that came up was the status of other friends. And perhaps the most important moment in visiting was seeing the other person and getting the hug. Although I absolutely enjoy talking to them and catching up, that really isn’t the most important point to me. If it was, I would actually talk to them, or at least Facebook stalk, during the school year and not just during breaks. It’s most important to me to just see people and see that they’re doing okay. That actually sounds dumb, since great disasters of health or state would certainly be filtered through to me by some manner. Maybe Facebook can make us more connected, and maybe skype can give us the fidelity of a real person’s speech and gesture. And maybe someday in the future, we’ll have the fantastic iTouch to add that sense as well (as speculated by my phil prof, who accompanied it with a poking gesture). But I still haven’t found anything as reassuring as seeing friends and family in the flesh and getting a good hug out of it.

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