07 June 2010

A Tribute to Direction

Over the weekend I went with my husband and my parents to Del Mar for the wedding of one of my favorite cousins, and got to spend some time with some of my other favorite cousins and family members. The wedding was really beautiful, the reception was lovely (and the food was delicious), the rehearsal dinner was a really nice party. We went to my Aunt's house on Sunday morning for a coffee before driving back up to Orange County, and it was a really nice moment to reflect on the weekend. But one thing stood out for me more than the other things.

Just over ten years ago, in September of 1999, I attended the funeral of my uncle Marco, an amazing, loving, vivacious person who affected the lives of everyone around him. He had been a professor of Political Science in San Diego for many years, and he just had the ability to light up a room and infect it with a sense of joy. He died really unexpectedly and it really affected me. I felt like I was kind of in a funk - I was a senior in high school and I was having trouble figuring out what I wanted to do with myself.  Everything was feeling rote and like I was just an automaton - wait, that's not completely accurate. I wasn't depressed or anything, I was just feeling uninspired.

Anyway. It was at his funeral that I really, truly realized what I wanted to do with my life, and found the direction that, until then, I had been missing. We were sitting at the funeral, and I looked around, and there were so many people there, people he had really inspired and affected. It moved me. With college applications on the horizon, I scrapped whatever poor writing sample I had been preparing until that point and re-wrote my essay about how inspiring he was, and how much I wanted to have an impact like him. I don't remember exactly what I wrote, but it was clearly heartfelt, because here I am ten years later and I'm working on making it happen.

During the wedding and the reception, he was mentioned during toasts and prayers and I almost started to cry each time, or I started to tear up thinking about it. I'm starting to tear up now, actually, but that's neither here nor there.

As we sat on their porch on Sunday morning, drinking coffee and reminiscing about the wedding, my Aunt sat down and asked me how my dissertating was coming along; I did my usual bob-and-weave answer, and she asked me more pointed questions that would be difficult to avoid, so we had a nice chat about my progress and topic and she told me about her experiences dissertating and, all of a sudden, it struck me that not only had I not heard from my advisor in ages, no one had asked me about my progress for a while, and not just because I try to skirt the issue whenever it comes up. It's because no one here has really been through it - it's not their fault, they just don't know what to ask and I don't like to have to continually explain my process.  So I've stopped being open about what is happening with my progress because, in explaining the different things that I have to do (on the long timeline, not immediately), it can really stress me out.

But I digress. What I took out of that weekend visit was that I remembered Marco, and I remembered how important he was in helping me find my way, and I felt all reinvigorated to finish my proposal sooner rather than later, and I'm just hoping to finish it next week. That's the plan, at least.

As tributes go, I can't mention his professional accomplishments or anything along those lines, because they are beyond the scope of my knowing Marco. I knew him as an uncle, a gregarious, insightful and kind man who helped me find my direction. Twice.

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