Monday, May 24, 2004

Excursions, pt. 1 (Geeks in the City)

If only I’d kept a scrapbook of the milestones of academic life. To ward off the chill of old age, I might then have dreamily turned its pages, cooing at crumbling mementos of the early days. First graduate seminar. (First waves of paranoia. First pangs of misanthropy and regret.) First conference paper. First (and final) qualifying exams. Lots and lots of first drafts.

And then, just this past week, First Research-Double-Date.

I spent the days before the big event making excited phone calls (to archives) and fretting over shoes (‘cuz we were without a car). There were some awkward moments, certainly—such as deciding with Dave and Jenn who would take the double bed and who would take the cots in the bedroom we shared. And, naturally enough, there were research-induced injuries. While in the National Archives’ cafeteria, Dave tangled with a sneeze-guard and tossed scalding-hot soup all over his hand, which promptly turned an ominous shade of purple. Still, we pressed on—in part because we still had an appointment with the Library of Congress’ Motion Picture Division. And, in part, because the DJ wasn’t totally lame and, anyway, our parents weren’t picking us up until 11…

Okay, so maybe it wasn’t quite as double-date-y as that. We planned the trip mostly as a way to stretch limited funds and, let’s be honest, as an excuse to socialize. Dave and Jenn remain two of our closest grad school-era friends. They attended our “family only” wedding last June. They were the very last people we saw, hugged, and wept with before loading up our little car (with four cats and a cello) and driving 2,000 miles East from St. Paul. Now, ten months after that tearful parting, we were going to attempt seven straight days of travel and togetherness. Hence, our nervousness as the week drew nearer. Could everyone play nicely for that long? Would the week end with a relieved goodnight, or with the suggestion that we "do this again sometime"?


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