by Suhani Suneja
I live in 2 worlds. Most people that know me are aware that I take too many short flights a year, to the point that I can pack for any trip in 30 mins and glide through TSA (except for that time I wore ridiculous metallic boots that triggered the alarm system and held up the entire line).
As an out of state college student, I live part of the year in Ann Arbor, MI and the other half in a CT suburban town filled with cul-de-sacs and town events, akin to living on the Gilmore Girls set. I’ve lived in this suburban town almost all my life, yet my deep roots that grew for 15 years have gradually started to shallow the less time I spend hearing about the local news of the Starbucks closing or my brother’s high school drama. And yet my roots aren’t so deep in the state of Michigan. My friends tease me for my constant misunderstandings of midwestern knowledge–I once said I’m gonna go “Up” to Ohio and that I would grab poutine at Tim Hortons. I almost feel like I live in 2 different snow globe bubbles, 2 entirely different realities with a different set of characters in each that are only vaguely aware of my reality in the other. I’m privileged in my ability to attend such a great university and go home occasionally, and to be able to have a wonderful support network in both places, yet I will admit I feel an everlasting sense of insatiability.
On my most recent flight home over the holiday break I took my seat by the window in a small aircraft. I flew home amidst the late afternoon sunset and relaxed for the first time in weeks. I watched as clumps of buildings turned into seeing little squares of land as we floated away from the earth’s surface. Later, I then watched as my vision of city blocks and suburban neighborhoods got clearer as we started landing. Though I despise the experience of flying, it was strangely mundane yet beautiful. Despite feeling a little out of place at most moments, through this small oval window I felt a sense of security in that I knew these areas, I could imagine the conversations around a dining table and the holiday stockings hung up by the door. But just like my little oval window, this imagination is a little eclipse, a tiny view of many realities. Sure there is some truth to my imagination and knowledge, but there is so much more that I don’t know.
I only know a couple blocks of Ann Arbor very well and a small perimeter of suburbs near my home. Try as I might, I don’t know what happens inside the majority of those houses. Just as I don’t really know what’s in these big chunks of land I see from my small airplane window, none of us truly know what happens in the minds of others and that can be a really freaking terrifying thought. My friends believe that I am a person that can read others well, but I somehow always feel unable to grasp the thought left unsaid on my friend’s tongue. The eye may be the window to the soul, but just like my airplane view, it is one small window, one small eclipsed overlap. I will never be able to read my mother’s every thought about me, nor will I ever be able to explore every business and every block of New York like I’ve always wanted. But perhaps this finiteness in my ability to explore socially and physically makes what I can do all the more rare and special. I may complain about going to class every day but what a wonder that every day I get to listen a little more, see a little more, explore a block further, experience the good bad and everything in between, taste my chai and try to treasure every moment and go further. What a pleasure.