Sep 16th, 2012


By Nick Robison

One month. I’ve been here for one month. It doesn’t seem like that. It seems like I just arrived, the list of things that I’ve accomplished in this period of time is alarmingly short, though a part of me chalks that up to the fact that classes still haven’t started (8 more days).

Am I a Washingtonian now? Legally, but probably not in spirit yet, I’m officially no longer a hoosier and I have the metal encased ID card to prove it (you have to shield the cards due to the RFID chip, that’s just how fancy we are). I’m slowly becoming a Seattleite, I know my way around my part of the city. I still haven’t figured out the buses yet, but I know how to get on and off without eliciting stares, so that’s a plus.

I’m starting to build a spiritual community, I’ve been attending Blue Sky Church in Bellevue and  Emmanuel Anglican Church in Ballard. Blue Sky has more young people and a vibrant small group network, but Emmanuel’s pastor is a Renaissance art scholar who goes to pubs and can’t read the whole of the liturgy without crying. At Blue Sky I know people, at Emmanuel I grow. I’ve taken to going to both for now.

I walk a lot, usually at night. I’ve always loved campuses at night, even when I was back at Purdue I used love working late and walking back to my house because the lights used to cast this really yellow tint over everything making it feel to warm and inviting. On the 3rd night I was at Purdue I went running with one of the seniors, we jogged through campus and I saw the lights for the first time, and the shadows, such dramatic shadows, for the first time I felt connected to the place, and that feeling’s never left. Now I walk to try and find connection, to get a feel for the place where I’ll spend the remainder of my 20s. I like to walk down to South campus, by the Oceanography buildings, and look out over the Lake Washington-Lake Union ship channel. I can see the 5, busy as always, towering on my right, to the left is the 520, with its sporadic traffic and sweeping curves disappearing around the bay. Straight across are a collection of houses staunchly detached from the city  sprawling behind them. I wonder who lives there, and how on earth you extract a car from the mess of transportation bridges and underpasses and get it to one of those buildings. The water, it’s always moving. It’s never still, it always seems restless, like somehow it knows it can get to the ocean if it just tries hard enough. The ‘drains to the river’ warnings on the sewers are probably a real thing. I like standing there and thinking, standing on the barrier between two worlds.

There are geese everywhere, they get into the fountain at the top of Rainier Vista and swim around with the ducks, it seems to be a much needed break from scattering poop all over the sidewalks. I’ve traded ginko tress for geese, both emit smelly byproducts that cling to your shoes. I think the raccoons have had it, I came across them chasing the geese in the fountain the other night. I wished them luck, if I was a raccoon I would chase them too.

North campus (written with that tone of derision reserved only for graduate students towards undergrads, and professors towards graduate students), see us Med School kids don’t think about North campus unless we have to, alternates between trying to channel its inner Harvard and trying to set the standard for campus architecture for the next 40 years, it succeeds admirably at both, though judging some of the buildings this is a change from a concerned effort in the late 70s to set the new design metrics, which did not succeed. I’ve really only seen it at night, the lights aren’t as yellow as they are at Purdue, but the shadows are just as dramatic, it’s also confusing, the roads like to take their time getting from one point to the other, not sharp and efficient as good road should be, and with the campus secluded by trees, it’s hard to get your bearings right. So I walk, and keep walking until I know it like the back of my hand.

I’ve started working on a new project, it may or may not turn into my dissertation, I’ve talked with a professor about it, he seems excited, he gave me a list of people to talk to, I still need to email them, hopefully I keep excited about it too. I’ve got another project I’m toying with, trying to figure out a way to connect people together during worship, a sort of collective prophetic experience, I don’t know how else to describe it, so I’m calling it Word for the Herd. I’m supposed to be working at Brotherhood again, I need to finish what I started, which will be new for me.

I’ve been cooking, or trying to cook. It’s been an adventure, nothing I make is really ‘good’, but it tastes like a version of what I was trying to make, so I eat it. I don’t eat very much food, of course, I don’t really expend that many calories either, we’ll see if it gets better once I have a more normal life and schedule.

I’m getting more used to the quiet, I can go long stretches without interacting with people and not feel discouraged, but fortunately those times are starting get fewer and fewer. The other night I was pretty down, so I went for a walk, and I was trying to figure out if I chocked on some food in my apartment how long it would take someone to realize I was gone, I figured it would be at least 3 days, maybe 5. That’s probably not a normal or healthy thing to think about, but I did anyways. The LORD very gently reminded me that he would know, that he sees me. He also asked me the question ‘do you think that I have called you to so little, that I would let you pass away in the middle of the night?’ I don’t really know that answer to that, but I’m assuming it’s no.

I’ve been reading a lot of books, I’m readying one about the 6 Day War, one about ex-Soviet pilots flying illicit cargo around the world, one about a fictional data haven, and one about pain, I read a lot of books at once. So far I’ve had a lot of time to read, we’ll see how that changes starting in a few weeks.

So far, I’m waiting, waiting for reality to start, waiting to feel like I’m doing something, waiting get back on a normal schedule. Waiting for friends, waiting for community, waiting to feel like I belong. I’m not afraid anymore. I’m not afraid I’ll starve, I’m not afraid I’ll be lonely, I’m not afraid I’ll spiritually shrivel. I’m excited. I’m excited to start doing things, I’m excited to learn, I’m excited to become a part of something cool, to be from a place as dynamic and vibrant as Seattle. I’m ready. I’m ready to embrace this new stage of my life, I’m ready to start being an adult, I’m ready to be my own person, I’m ready to introduce the Northwest to a healthy serving of Midwest. For now, I’m planted, my roots are still young and shallow, but they’re getting deeper everyday.

One month down 83 to go.