Hey readers :). Short post tonight, since I started late, and hopefully another one on the way :).
My birthday was this Friday. I can now proudly say I’m twenty three. (Darn, an odd number year. I like the even endings :)). And my friends here are stupendous.
It’s insane to me that after seven months here I have as much support as I do. My lab continues to be wonderful—after checking my participant schedule to make sure I was free, they came en masse at 3:30pm and brought out the homemade cake (Lizzie, it continues to be one of the best cakes I’ve had) and present. And the present was perfect—a homemade mozzarella kit, a cute owl plushie, and owl card. Moreover, one of my participants came running in partway through to deliver chocolate and cheese. “How did you know this was exactly what I wanted?” I asked, incredulous. “Oh, I emailed Nacho [who was in Spain getting his visa] and asked him what you liked.”
There was more to come. We headed out to dinner, where I was presented with a cheese boat—Lukas had hidden the cheese in a corner of the communal fridge and assembled it (along with supporting grapes) on the fly. I am entirely charmed by this and will continue to be charmed by this for birthdays evermore. (Welcome, cheese boat birthday, to the ranks of the 21 egg-custard-tart birthday.) We played The Game, a common lab pastime, though our drawing skills are so improved that we’re getting far too good at it. It was so close to a normal lab outing—beers, food, talk—but tweaked a bit to my tastes— less drinking, nicer food, The Game. (This week we’re tweaking it a bit to Joey’s tastes, for his birthday—sports, barbeque, laying out in the sun.)
And the Facebook messages. I am so glad we have Facebook, and am just so touched by everyone who takes the time to write a message. It’s not about the numbers—though the numbers are frankly boggling (how do I know and like so many people and have them also care about me?)— but that every single person took the time and mental effort to think about me and write something nice. It makes me feel so lucky to have history with and enjoy thinking about (and have it returned by) each of these friends.
(It even took place in two rounds, which was even better :). Messages in the morning from the UK people, and a second blast around 2pm from the US people.)
And then all of my participants who happily wished me well when they heard, and friends from College who did the same, and my housemate who flagged me down at midnight while I was stomping up the stairs to give me chocolate, and my other housemate who introduced me to a homemade agar dish, and Eileen and Sanja who got me an apple pastry and chocolate respectively—and all of the presents were things I liked, and they all went to effort to organize and get something, or just sincerely wish me the best, and it’s so special. So special.
How have I become the sort of person who is able to draw and keep all of these thoughtful, caring, astonishing people around me? This is something that has developed, though the sheer amount of wonderful people here certainly helps. It’s still something I marvel at though. I think we all know the feeling of wanting to be someone’s friend, but not being able to keep their interest, not knowing what to say or do (though I’ve realized recently that not everyone thinks about this situation the way I tend to.) To be able to engender the warmth in other people that I feel for them will never cease to be a treasure.
And the kindness of people here, even for almost-strangers, is insane. My participants, a friend-of-a-friend in Berkeley who has reached out to help me with everything there, the librarians and porters at Lucy Cavendish College… such genuine people, sincerely and happily offering their help and interest. I feel like many people here are just so settled and happy in their own lives that they’re absolutely willing to hold out a hand to others, and it’s just a circle that spirals upward. When I imagined the best thing I’d find in Cambridge, I couldn’t have known it would be this :).
Best to all of you, readers :). Much love to all the friends tonight.