One of my favorite sports is swimming. It’s not only because no one can see my flushed red tomato face under water, nor is it only because I can pretend I am a water bender, (though both are major factors), but rather it’s the peaceful solidarity of the sport that draws me to it. One of the things I loved to do when I was little was swim from one end of the pool to another, without taking a single breath. I love the feeling of propelling myself off the wall like a jet, and yet even when I am speeding across the pool, it still feels like I am slowly and peacefully making my way towards my final destination. But obviously, as much as I love the water, once I got to the end of the pool, I wanted nothing else but to be out of it. The pool eventually becomes all too much, too much pressure, not enough air. That’s how it felt going back home after my first semester of college, like a breath of fresh air after a long underwater journey.
It’s not to say I did not enjoy my first semester, but for the first time since spelling was still a subject in elementary school, I began to struggle academically. Usually I sped through tests, quizzes, and essays like they were nothing but water molecules to be pushed aside. Another exam was simply another lap across the swimming pool. But at Yale, I found myself out of breath a lot farther from the finish line than before. Comparing my current abilities to my previous ones, I pushed myself to commit to more late night study sessions, fewer insomnia cookie runs with friends. But now looking back at this, I realize that perhaps dunking my head back into the water and swimming at the same speed I did before was not the right solution. Perhaps it is simply that this swimming pool was a lot longer than the one at home.
Right now I am in Taipei with mom and sister, sitting in perhaps the world’s greatest invention ever: 7-Eleven. I’m not talking about the sad 7-Elevens in America, no no no. This beauty sells hot porridge, hard-boiled eggs, those cute triangle shaped rice balls, full course meals. You can even pay your bills, buy phone cards, ship packages, and buy clothes all in this little heaven on Earth. But anyways, after spending months away from my family on the other side of the country, making our small household already smaller than it needs to be, being reunited with my mom and sister, I am reminded of why I went to college in the first place. It is so we can continue to be together, to ride bicycles and crash into each other, to be obnoxious on subway rides by telling weird jokes, run in the park and play on the see-saws, hike up mountains and climb up trees to catch sunsets, to basically live in 7-Eleven and eat all day. It doesn’t matter where we are, what we are doing; as long as we are together, it is home. In a way, spending time with my loved ones is kind of like taking a breath in a middle of a long swim. Since I am so far away from home now that I am in college, I might need more of them. This way, when I go back into the water, I can swim as fast as I did before, maybe even faster.