Sunday, October 4, 2009


So I’m In Ann Arbor, my school town. I’m sitting in the café, Espresso Royale, that I used to go to everyday when I was in college. I did my undergrad here. It’s funny, it‘s been many years but I still feel like myself while sit here. I can’t figure out if it is the same self that was there when I was in college.

When I think about all that I have been through in the almost fifteen years since I graduated, I think I can’t possibly be the same person. I know I’m different, I’m more mature, maybe more cynical, maybe more real or at least aware of reality.

I was so young and optimistic and naïve when I came to the University of Michigan. It’s not like I hadn’t seen some of life’s realities at home, I’d seen quite a bit since my father was going blind and mother almost ended up in jail for a false malpractice claim that she won.

But when I came here, I thought, I can be anything. I’ll be a lawyer I thought first, and fight for battered women and children. Then I realized I could fight with words, I started to realize that for me words were everything. I wanted to make meaningful speeches and write columns in the newspaper about these issues.

I didn’t know it yet, but all I wanted was to be a writer. I thought I would do it on the side back then, but I slowly but surely realized that writers have power to change society too. However I thought, I would just study and become successful because I assumed I would learn to become brilliant here.

In this school I dreamed of changing the world. I dreamed of “being the change in the world I wanted to see.” I remember that, but not every day. Yes I developed plans in life where later I will teach in underprivileged countries and eventually open up a school for the battered women and children in India.

However, I haven’t gone to those countries and worked yet. Other things came up. Important things. Life. I thought I would be part of a revolution of some sort. A revolution for women, a revolution for peace.

Little did I know that that revolution would include voting for a black president. Little did I know that I would become that woman who had to save herself from the abusive men in her past. (Let’s just say as a woman I went through very much because of the lack of laws and social stigmas against sexual abuse and exploitation).

Little did I know that everyone has to first have their own personal revolution, before they can change the world. I thought the world was a lot NICER than it is. I thought life would be a lot EASIER than it was.

I totally assumed I’d be married with children by now. I’m sitting here, and I’m so glad I’m not married with children yet. There is much of my revolution that must continue to occur before I am ready to give myself to someone completely and feel I can actually bring another human being into this mad, mad, world. Although I am looking around and feel ready to start this journey in my life, I’m glad I waited.

Then there is my own madness I must deal with. I never knew, when I was eighteen, that I had the capacity to become as mad as I have become at certain points in my life. When I say mad I mean it in both meanings of the word: Madness and Anger.

I never knew the world could make me react that way.

God I miss that. I miss not knowing. I came to this University to dispel my ignorance. And I read about wisdom and I wrote about wisdom and I even had a wise thought or two. But I didn’t know that real wisdom comes with a price. With scars and pain.

Don’t get me wrong, I have experienced unmentionable beauty and love, but I expected that. What I didn’t expect was the beauty of knowledge and understanding the world as it really is and not how it plays out in the books.

Sometimes I miss my old dreams.



  1. Nina, this is a beautifully written piece. It sounds like you are just bursting with things to write about. I didn't discover that I was a writer until I was in my 30's so you are way ahead of me. One of my favorite books on writing is "Bird By Bird," by Anne Lamont. I love her work. Just continue to follow your path. You're wiser than you know. - Jayne

  2. this is great. going on a trip to a place you used to live can be very introspective and clarifying. i am glad you are having that experience.