This is your paradise

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I have fallen in love again with this magical city over the past few days.

I made the executive decision to not attend the bulk of my high school reunion yesterday, having done my part on Thursday evening. The evening was festive, but with one or two exceptions I didn’t feel very connected to anyone from this part of my past. I am much better suited to the world I’ve inhabited since I completed my formal education, and it’s a world that bears little resemblance to my all girls’ boarding school and college, which was the quintessential East Coast liberal arts school, complete with homecoming games, quad-dwelling hacky sack players, and a flourishing Greek life. Neither institution nurtures individuality the way the cities I love and the people I choose to spend time with do. There were molds to fit. I’ve come to appreciate both places in a way that I couldn’t see them then, and that’s largely because I have the benefit of a few decades of wisdom. Attaining wisdom often comes at a cost; it’s rarely a smooth process, and some of the strongest lessons are born of darkness. But knowing this makes the dark times less unbearable.

Brightness follows every squall. These words have stayed with me since I heard them, in February 2006 at my friend’s father’s burial. It was a cold, sunny, beautiful day in the aftermath of several days’ of winter storm. I remember trying to balance the walk across the frozen snow toward the grave; the sun was blinding. My friend’s mother, the widow, spoke eloquently and calmly. Brightness follows every squall, was how she began her eulogy.And it’s true, and this is what helps me most when things get difficult.

I am feeling exponentially more tranquil and grateful today than I did one week ago. Right this minute, in my beautiful home with the rain as my background music, I’m exactly where I want to be.

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