I remember talking to an old mentor of mine years ago, one of the few men who I ever fully trusted. He had supported me through mental health crises and general professional development throughout my undergrad years. In the spring of 2017, after I got into my PhD program, he gave me a bit of advice that always stuck with me: to try and slow down and enjoy each moment of grad school. He told me about how because of the training period’s business, you can blink and it will have all passed you by.
This advice reminds me of a guy I once went on a date with and texted for a little while afterward. He said that he had not even realized that for years he had been dating man after man just for the sake of dating, because during that time he had been working 80 hours a week so he could pay for the college tuitions of his younger siblings and nephews and nieces living in southeast Asia. When he switched to a job that required closer to 40 hours a week, he realized that he did not need to date men just to date men
though this man still preferred to date lighter-skinned and more masculine men so let’s not overly praise his burgeoning self-awareness tbh.
Flash to a guy I went out with around late 2021 after I submitted my residency applications. When I told him that I had not dated a man yet, he expressed surprise given my then-age of 26. I raised my eyebrows at his shock because 1) I feel so proud of myself for getting this far in life without a male romantic partner and 2) he had dated two or three different guys and still had tons of attachment issues, not saying that to be mean just to point out that number of dating experiences does not equal growth or maturity as a human. In some ways I get where his sentiment come from, because the joint forces of capitalism and patriarchy do reward romantic coupledom in a lot of scenarios (e.g., tax breaks for married people, the prevalence of the wedding industrial complex, etc.) Still, this societal glorification of romance makes me even happier that I have not settled for a mediocre man and have invested in my close friendships instead.
All of this to say: I made it to Cambridge! I have a bed and a desk and a couple of suitcases of clothes and more furniture will arrive next week. Every day so far I’ve enjoyed jogging and walking along the Charles River, a beautiful site super close to my apartment which reminds me of one of my fav writers Caroline Knapp every time I see folks rowing on the water. I’m taking in so many other fab moments too, like inhaling a glorious cookies and cream milkshake from New City Microcreamery, chatting with my long-distance friends via video and audio message, and reading books in my apartment unbothered by the male gaze. I may only live here for a year so I want to make every moment count.
Today I finished reading What My Bones Know, an amazing memoir by Stephanie Foo about childhood trauma and her Malaysian lineage. This book reminded me of the privilege I possess to have the time to sit and reflect instead of always work, though, I know people who also have that time and choose to spend it in other ways. I figure that if I must exist as a queer Asian American man in this patriarchal white supremacist mess of a country, I might as well try to find some ways to enjoy it.
How do you try to slow down to savor or acknowledge different moments in your life, if at all? How do you cope with business? General reactions to this post? It’s been awhile so I wanted to share this so folks know that I am indeed alive and I did successfully turn 27 last week um yay, 27 and still self-disclosing bunches on the internet and running around listening to “I Can’t Stop Me” and “Feel Special” by Twice.