frenchpony (frenchpony) wrote,

  • Music:

Hey, Old Friend

The world of academia is small. The world of ethnomusicology is even smaller. Today I ran into an old high school friend at the University. He's normally working on his Ph.D. at Columbia, but he's here studying Tamil for the summer. I knew he was here; a mutual friend who did undergrad with him and who is now doing grad with me told me he was in town, so I wasn't entirely surprised to look over randomly in the computer lab and see this guy I hadn't seen since high school. He was surprised, though. His eyes bugged out, and you could see him having a paradigm shift right there: "Wait . . . that's Pony . . . not supposed to be here . . . supposed to be somewhere else . . . can't process . . . "

So we had a nice chat. We talked about our different programs and where we wanted to go from here. He spoke highly of his program at Columbia, which encouraged me, because I'm thinking of applying there for doctoral work.

It was neat; I haven't seen him since I was seventeen and he was eighteen, but I knew it was him right away. Couldn't have been anyone else. And he recognized me, too, though it took his brain a while to admit it. He looks grown up now. He doesn't have that gangly walk he had in high school; instead, he's all cool and coordinated. In high school, there was a man inside him who he was trying hard to find. I think he's found that man now. I can see the jazzy, bopping kid he used to be, only smoother and richer. He hasn't lost the dance in his step, and I'm glad of that.

It's good to know that we're colleagues now. It turns out to be a nice dynamic between us, very easy. I know the person he was in high school, and he knew the person I was in high school. No chance of pretense or appearances or any of that professional posturing. It's good to know that I will have one academic colleague who will see right through whatever pretensions I might build up over the years.

Somewhere in eleven years, he changed from a kid into a person. I wonder if that's what it means to grow up. And I wonder what he saw in me.
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