I’m currently sitting at the cafe I frequented in my college years, listening to everyone studying for finals and eating my old standard: a ridiculously under-priced salad with a huge scoop of tuna on top. Seriously – I think it’d cost me more to make it at home.

At the table next to me are two fast friends who are obviously in imminent danger of graduation. For some reason, even though it’s been five years now since I graduated from college (good God! time flies), watching them hug each other during their last-minute cramming gave me a pang. I remember having to say goodbye to my friends at the end of our last year, watching the foundations of the proto-adult life we’d carefully built over the past four years suddenly being taken away.

Obviously I haven’t gone too far since then, at least not physically speaking. I am still sitting at the same old cafe, after all, albeit wearing professional clothing and an engagement ring.

Mentally and emotionally though, life has never been the same. In the past year, I have watched my best friend get married (to someone she met at this very cafe, no less), and I am soon to be wed myself. Nowadays friendships don’t come as easily as they did in college, which might have something to do with me imbibing a lot less alcohol. And life definitely isn’t as carefully delineated as it was back then.

In fact, perhaps I spend time here because I’m an academic junkie – I like being around the academic structure of books, exams, papers, quarters, and I miss it. Honestly I don’t think I’ve ever truly adjusted to the world outside of university life, and have spent the past five years (including a year back at school and a postponed PhD attempt) trying to find something that fits me as well.

In the end I’ve stopped trying to fight it and just admitted what I am – a recovering academic. Once I accepted that I have a problem, it’s no longer as much of a problem. I don’t feel guilty for hanging around my old school haunt, eating the same cheap salad I’ve eaten for the past nine years of my life.

This is just a part of who I am, who my family and my future husband are… and that is more than OK with me.

Plus come on, who wouldn’t want to hang out here:

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