> jumping into life.


the train leaves in three and a half hours.

i'll see you on the other side.


i can picture it soaring silently through space, and we spinning past, closer than we've ever been since we were here to recognize it, i can think about the thrusting seasons and the searing line between heat and cold, between this very moment and 60,000 years.

but i can't see it, because the light pollution is so bad you can't see any stars tonight, and because the big tall buildings are in the way.

one more reason i will be glad to be gone from here.


my academic advisor doesn't know how i withdraw but sends me to jeanette eliot-brown's office, where david also doesn't know, but his secretary does. armed with a xerox-mangled form so dark as to be functionally illegible, i attempt to gather the required signatures - only five, but once i get to main building SAS informs me that the comptroller will only sign it once everyone else has signed, and when i trek back up to arch street, the co-op office is closed. the woman at residential living needs to make a photocopy of the form but is frustrated because her photocopy is even more indecipherable than mine. she wants me to get a new form and more signatures so that they have their records straight. i refuse. i leave towers about ready to spit acid, but chris hails me from across the street and offers to take me to cape may to see the ocean, and then things are okay again.


this is something like a perfect day: warm but breezy and dry, a bright blue sky scudded by clouds, the farmer's market bustling. we bought apples and peaches, misshapen carrots, lemon cucumbers, blueberries, kohlrabi, and huge, heavy tomatoes.

tonight is my going-away party. i've been having a hard time telling people i'm leaving, and even harder a time trying to explain why. it's hard to just say "i hate it here." hard to put into words the certainty that i'm going completely insane and very literally need to leave. especially on a day like today, where the brick houses look so lovely and the even the trees seem content to be here. from this window, all i can see is blue sky, red chimneys, and the avalanche of leaves. the delicious breeze smells like springtime, and the basil plant on the windowsill seems to be smiling into the sun. i'm content. days like these are like reading hemmingway, the one exquisitely crafted sentence that falls just short of justifying the rest of the work. maybe if i'd been living with jason, or by myself, instead of in that god-forsaken, roach-infested house; maybe if the summer had been all these soft, sunny days; maybe if the friendships which have been suddenly flowering had taken root earlier; maybe if i tried harder to appreciate the twisted beauty of the city. but in the end, i have to leave. in a week now, approximately to the hour, i'll be arriving at the station to check my bags and confirm my ticket, and soon after i'll be boarding a train for the long trip home. leaving this city for something very like forever.

i stayed longer than i meant to. last winter i had an apartment picked out in tacoma, washington, and knew the number for u-haul, and found myself wishing vehemently that i'd not chosen such interesting classes nor fallen so completely in love. it's a sticky spiderweb of ties that bind me here, easy enough to break if you think to do it, but stronger than steel in their own way. i had a conversation with amy, who's also a recent transfer student, and she claims that i will feel as though i've "woken up after a long sleep." i'm hoping to see more clearly when i brush the cobwebs from my eyelashes, but i know i'll miss them once they're gone.


i've discovered my dream college. unfortunately, they only accept men.


out the window to my right, a late-afternoon sun creates a trembling patchwork of leaf and shadow, the brilliant green of those above shading dark the leaves of those below. curled tendrils grasp windowscreen, branch, thin air, a canopy of loosely woven limbs. i am taken aback by the abundance of these plants, how they clamber wildly up the side of this house and the one next door, rising above the rooftops to get at the sun. i open a second, west-facing window and breeze floods the room, full of the mild scent of warmth and a tinge of the neighbor's curry. i can just see into the backyard, where tomatoes, zuchinnis, peas, peppers and lettuce have fought a mostly-losing battle this summer against a host of better-adapted weeds. i hope that some of them are native plants, struggling against 91,000 acres of city and winning in my boyfriend's backyard if nowhere else. we don't pull them out, essentially for that very reason. we are loathe to kill anything green here, even if it chokes out our peas.

clouds are gathering, great grey forms above a thin strip of yellow sky. their bulk crowds out the sun and turns the greengold cacophany outside to a more reserved array of hues. all the leaves seem poised for rain, hovering in anticipation. i feel that way myself, listening to the strange rasping cry of an unseen bird drowned by the growl of helicopters. i'd like a good rain, not just a breif afternoon thunderstorm, though those have consistantly delighted me these past few months. what i want is a storm, the kind that threatens all our false bastions of control - toppling power lines, flooding streets, the kind of storm we feel compelled to give a name to, its power so overwhelms our own.

i want to be humbled in front of the world. there's no opportunity for that here, only the smug, muggy feeling that we have conquered. i've discovered over the past two years that i don't believe in cities; they're fundamentally unstable, the way we do them now, and deeply at odds with evolutionary sustainability, not to mention my own personal mental health.

the setting sun clears the cloudbank and for a moment shines directy through my window and into my eyes, glazing the whole world golden. the light fades and strengthens in a slow pulsebeat of passing clouds. if only we could find a way to be so constant in our transitory movements, so solidly fluid as cloudshadows, changing the landscape only for as long as they remain.

i'm leaving here, this wasteland of surprising fecundity, where grasses claw themselves out of every sidewalk crack and mushrooms spring up like subdivisions after every rain. it isn't enough for me, even with the changing seasons and the drifting of snow and colored leaves. even with love. i'm leaving because i can't stand it here and i have a deep and desperate need to find a place that will quench me, that will be big enough to hold me and small enough to let me in. i need a new context within which to see myself, wider skies against which i can learn the measure of my silhouette. i'm afraid of leaving until i think of it as leafing, as a tiny bud of opportunity squinched tight as a baby's fist, just ready to unfurl and amaze me with its beauty. i've got my eyes on the horizon now; the sun sets into west philly but also into the sea, and the rain is coming.


i'm packing, and into these flimsy cardboard boxes go all my fears and worries and reservations, because i don't have time for the lurking itch of something forgotton or the nag of opportunities lost. i insist that my last two weeks here are spent well and in the company of friends and good food. there'll be plenty of time for reflection on the train ride home.