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Posts Tagged ‘change’

When I first moved to a city that would be my home for many many years, I would walk across this long bridge on my way to and from class every day.  The bridge had all sorts of graffiti on it, but one in particular, I loved seeing every day.  Written in fading two-foot-high Helvetica was, “You own this town!”  I would look up at the skyline along the river and nod my head:  “Yes.  Yes I do.  I own this town!”    

A few months later, someone had re-painted the words, and prepended something like “Flipper,” or “Otter” – one of those frathouse nicknames – to the front.  It now read, “Otter, you own this town!”  Turned out that it was graffiti that the brothers of SigEp down the street would paint on the bridge every year to honor their pledge trainer.  I was crushed.  

They say that you can’t step into the same water twice.  This weekend I went back to visit my town after a long absence.  Surprisingly enough, it did not cease to exist without me.  A five hour walk around town revealed that the price of a breakfast sandwich at my favorite bakery went up by another $1 since I had been gone, but everything else remained constant.    

Arriving at the bus station, I realized that for the first time that I wasn’t taking the metro home – to my Sorority House full of bitchy girls who didn’t know how to clean up after themselves or to my college dorm where I lived after I de-affiliated from the sisterhood or to my apartment in the Area 4 ghetto I shared with a cat named Ralph or to my other apartment with the nutso roommate I generously called the Troll or to my lovely condo I finally bought to rid myself of the Troll.  I would be taking the metro to my friends’ place to crash on their couch.  

Four zipcodes, six addresses, ten years.  This town is full of firsts and favorites.  I can’t walk down the street without recognizing a face or a pothole.  It’s also crawling with ex-boyfriends.  I have an opinion about its every brunch place and concert venue.  It’s the place where I grew up.  It’s also the place I had to leave in order to keep growing.  

During my 5 hour walk down memory lane someone stopped me to ask for directions.  As I sent him on his way, I thought, “I still own this town!”      

This coming year I will create a life for myself in Fontainebleau, I will make new friends, pick my favorite bakery, and get obsessed over an obscure beer that you can only get at one bar in town.  I will determine the best cappuccino in town through a lengthy vetting process, find a favorite jogging route through the forest, fall in love with the distant sound of the train on weekend mornings.  I will own that town.  And come December 09, I will pack up my life and move on.  Fontainebleau will continue to exist.  The classes after mine will carry on the traditions and the debauchery.  Another blogger will take up these reins.  Someone else will discover my favorite cappuccino joint or declare my favorite beer his favorite beer.

The tradeoff is that in leaving the places I’ve owned and loved, INSEAD will give me the opportunity to own many more.  The prospect of owning a London or a Cairo or a Tokyo is ahead!

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