Monday, August 27, 2007

Out of the Hospital, Into the Fire

I have successfully undergone my second surgery and have to say that I'm walking amazingly well considering that I was operated on Thursday. What is an outpatient surgery with local anesthesia in the U.S. is a full anesthesia, four days in the hospital affair here. I was released this morning and barely need my crutches (though I'm supposed to use them for three weeks). Though the surgery took twice as long as planned, resulting in my lower leg being numb and tingly (asleep) for 12 hours, I am certainly thankful everything else seems tip-top this time around and that my body maintains its ability to quickly heal itself.

I head to Berlin Friday with the last of my stuff, my fish Ruby, two new bank accounts, and a whole lot of feelings to sort through. Before I went into the hospital, I started counting the lasts: last walk down my street, last ice cream cone or olives from the local shop, last weekend living in this city, last time doing X or Y. There are so many things you always think you'll do, always make time for before you leave, that simply sneak up on you when the end actually comes. I did try to do a number of them while I could still walk -- but then, it's not really so much about checking sites off a list as it is about regrets over paths not taken, drinks not had, buses never ridden. Fall, as much as it signals new beginnings for those who follow an academic calendar, can also be a season of reflection and regret. Its chill is already hanging in the air.

What I regret more, perhaps, are all those lasts I didn't think of in time -- mostly that the students of my program were together for the final time in the days preceding the surgery, people whom I will never see again, and I didn't take more time to talk with them about their plans or wish them well because I was too caught up in my own dramas. I would be happy if all their dreams for the near future come to fruition, and overjoyed if they all learned to be a bit kinder.

Despite all the uncertainty that goes with this move -- with leaving academics, with a new city, a new roommate, no job and now physical limitations -- there are so many things to look forward to with this new start. For the first time, I will be living in a city because it is where I want to be, not because it is where what I want to do is located. And what a city, my Berlin! Life of late has seemed a bit of trial by fire, and maybe I am giddy from the feeling of strength that proverbially comes when you survive such challenges. But for the moment, choice rather than necessity is guiding my path and I will embrace it -- and my new laboratory, my new home, Berlin.


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