34. For most of last year, I had lunch with my research group everyday. It had started out with seven girls and my supervisor, the opposite version of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Slowly, for one reason or another, the group got smaller; by the end of the year, more often than not it was just Geluck, my supervisor, and me. When he went on
vacation sabbatical January this year, I started having lunch more frequently with the Super Mario group. After his return, I would invite Geluck to join us every now and then, but I always wondered whether he felt comfortable, as Geluck was often uncharacteristically quiet around us. It is not that he doesn't know them. Despite being a probabilist and not working with Super Marios, the optimizers, Geluck is familiar with them thanks to his various administrative duties. Today, he sees a new face.
"So, what do you work on?"
"Graph theory. So, no probability," answers The New Face.
"Not everyone is perfect," replies my supervisor.
I guess he is comfortable being around us after all.
35. We are leaving the cafeteria, hoping to beat the imminent rain. So, of course the minute we step out of the door, it starts hailing. Looking at FL's head, concerned, Zoe asks, "Does it hurt?"
FL no longer speaks to Zoe.
36. Early evening. The sun is still shining brightly. Groups of people are sitting on grass, shooting the breeze and enjoying the beautiful weather. As we walk past them, I ask her, "Will you miss Brussels?" "Yes," Julia says, "but when you start to collect so many homes, you don't know which one to miss."
Having moved around as many times as each other, we start to talk about the pros and cons of such a life. The good thing about being able to live in various countries, is that you are given the opportunities to grow and change, in ways that you never would, were you to stay at the same place for all your life. You get to accumulate very different, many wonderful, life experiences. "The bad thing is," I say, "that you don't get to accumulate people." To be sure, the number of people whose faces and (half of the time) names that you recognize, increases as you travel. But, the number of people whose couch you can crash on after a bad week, whom you can call at 11 pm just to talk, and to whom you can't wait to tell a joke you just heard because you know they will appreciate it, this number usually restarts at zero with each new place.
Julia agrees with me, but what she says next catches me by surprise. "And, because you know that you are leaving, subconsciously, you try not to get attached to people." I wonder if it is true, the fact that a traveller's mind does this even on a subconscious level; and if it is, which is worse, conscious detachment or subconscious detachment?