I am amused and in awe of how quickly our worlds can change and grow and look and feel unrecognizable. In my last blog I was characterizing the tension I’d felt after a difficult adjustment to life in Belfast and a necessary return home for six weeks. I’m actually writing this blog from the States again, as I’m finishing up a short visit to WashU in St. Louis, the place I will call home right after my Mitchell year, and where I’ll be getting my PhD!
The past month and a half since getting back to Belfast and getting into the swing of things has been a dramatic difference from my first semester. I started an internship at Linen Hall Library where I’m working with Lynda Walker’s personal archive, sorting through tons of documents from projects she organized as a women’s right’s activist in the 80’s and 90’s. It is tedious work, but it’s been so interesting to think about the politics of memory through such a tactile experience.
My friends have shown up for me in so many tender ways. We got to visit Corrymeela, a bucket list item for me as so many of my friends from undergrad have been. I’ve been running lots of random road races in nearby counties (and even in Scotland!) with my friends, and we’ve even started a wee run club between the few of us to do a chatty run around the city on Saturdays. Sarah, Gil, our favorite American friend (who is basically an adopted Belfast Mitchell at this point), Ellie, and I went to Edinburgh early in February where we spent the weekend mostly drinking tea and sucking lozenges in our airbnb because we’d all come down with massive colds. (Except Gil who somehow never gets sick.) Somehow I even convinced Ellie and Gil (my least Gen-Z friends) to go to a The 1975 concert when they came to Belfast. (Long story short: see photo. Ha!) My friends from Sarah’s program even hosted a sweet Galentine’s day brunch where we ate Sarah’s homemade frittata and french toast and held space for each other. And Ellie, Gil, Sarah and I started a book club (which is more of an excuse to go to a restaurant every week) where we’re reading the Great Gatsby (as per Sarah’s request.)
And in between these sweet moments with friends, I’ve begun to build relationships with faculty as well who have shown up for me in unexpected ways. I recently got to co-chair an event with a friend where we got to be in conversation with Mary Phillips, a cool scholar from New York who is writing a book on women in the Black Panther Party, and Ericka Huggins, a former leader in the Black Panther Party who was imprisoned with Bobby Seale. To be in touch with Black women, especially such admirable and inspiring women who reflect very important values and aspirations in my life as a scholar and an activist, and to get to know them in a place where I have felt largely isolated from people who look like and experience the world in similar ways to me was such a gift.
So, I am doing well. And my orientation to Belfast and my understanding of my time here has shifted significantly from my last blog not only because of my wealth of good experiences lately, but also because I know my next steps. I catch myself getting ahead of myself, looking too far into the future, wishing I could fast-forward to August when I will begin this next huge adventure of my life. But then I remember: I’ve got less than 150 days here (even less by the time you’re reading this.) There’s still so much to do and explore here. So much to appreciate and to wonder at. And many, many more jokes to laugh at between me, Sarah, Gil, and Ellie. That is what I think about most when I realize how quickly the time is getting away from me, and how soon my life will be changing again. I’ll miss them the most.