The End, the Middle, and the Beginning

June 4, 2012

This past few weeks have been busy. After I last posted about the inspiring (and delicious) Hot Bread Kitchen, I fell into the finals vortex. I retreated to quiet parts of small downtown branches of the New York Public Library and traveled uptown for countless group meetings. With overlapping groups of team members we analyzed and reported on the role of the bodega in New York City’s economy and how they can improve their operations and be better leveraged as community resources. For my social enterprise class we created a business plan for a social enterprise restaurant I very much want to launch as soon as I can fill in the gaps in my expertise, transition from someone who loves food and cooking to someone who should be taken seriously in that world. I created a mock investment analysis and proposal and spent an embarrassing number of hours putting together fictional financial projections. Things clicked this final semester of graduate school, and while I went to Columbia to learn international affairs and take a collection of classes that I initially assumed would lead me back to something like UNICEF, I wound up graduating with something like a social MBA, learning entrepreneurship and management, food systems and economic models for inequality, corporate legal structures, and investment. It was challenging, I had to earn this masters degree.

A few Sundays ago I clicked a ‘submit’ button, turned in my last paper, maybe ever, and got on a plane to San Francisco to look for apartments. It was a busy three days, with puzzled together craigslist appointments, a few too many zipcars, seeing friends, and running up and down the hills to try to find a place to live in a city that’s pretty new to both of us. We left without one, a sort of scary prospect, but thankfully have gotten a great place since then (knock on wood it all goes smoothly once we get there).

Once back, we sort of started packing up, but mostly tried to experience our last few days in New York as much as possible. And then the movers came and all of our things went on a truck and we no longer live in New York, which seems nearly impossible, and scary, and exciting. We said goodbye to our friends (something that made leaving infinitely more difficult). I went to my graduation, walked across that brick-pathed campus in my pale blue cap and gown, had my name called, smiled for the camera, and left before it was even time to throw those caps in the air. Again we got on a plane, and spent two weeks in Europe–Istanbul, Venice, Rome, Tuscany. I’ll add details and pictures in later posts. It’s too much to blithely embed here in this long, texty post (sorry for that).

After a twinkly, warm backyard wedding this weekend with huge smiles and so much dancing and some last goodbyes to friends who feel like family, we’re about to go to California, to start the next thing, the new beginning after the end of school and this middle, limbo time. After feeling like it was a long way off, here we are. It’s time to go and I can feel the anxiety sitting with me, all of the doubts about what comes next and how I’m going to make it work, the exposure one feels emerging from the safe, familiar womb of school into something new, where I’m not owed anything and I’m only guessing at the landscape. As someone who always knows exactly which way to walk when popping up out of the subway in New York, and know all about new restaurants and shops all the time, I’m excited to get going and learn a new place, to figure out what’s where and what’s good and where I fit in.

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