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The Guy in the Flip Flops

|Author: Gavin|


When I first learned what someone’s aura was, I laughed. I was 16 and learned about the different colors, sizes, shape and textures that went into an aura and what they symbolized in someone's personality. Learning about auras was for a class assignment which was a little odd, but what stood out to me was the fact that in this explanation, only a few select individuals could see the aura of themselves or others. It seemed like a broken and inefficient system to symbolize someone's personality, but it did make me think about who I was. This was not a topic that I generally thought about at that time, I wasn’t avoiding the subject with myself, it just had never come up.


I thought to all my friends I had made up until that point, and realized that I had the same relationship with all of them. There were obviously nuances, different overlapping areas of interest but the dynamic remained the same between myself and the other person. I realized that most people tended to react to my personality in the same way. It bore a disturbing resemblance to an Aura, that everyone somehow sees the same thing in me, but I buried that fact under several layers of teen angst and existential suffering where it safely resides to this day.


When I first arrived in India, I was worried that I wouldn’t fit in. That my trademark brand of sarcasm, inappropriate humor and general lack of familiarity with anything related to pop culture would fall flat in a group of people like those on the GCIL program. I had the chance to learn who many of you were through my roommate, Emma, before coming here. But that did little to help my fear of isolation while abroad. Oh, that reminds me, she texted me several days ago to say ‘hi’ to everyone. I am going to count this blog as me relaying that message.


The first friend I made at UW took me nearly six months to make. I knew that I didn’t have that kind of time but had no idea how to accelerate the process. I don’t know when it happened, whether it was the day that I flopped down on the couch in front of Tessa and she looked at me with no change in facial expression and said ‘same’ before turning back to her computer, carrying Eric to and from the snorkeling boat or learning that Mike doesn’t do yoga (still shook). I could spend all day listing the memorable interactions I have had with everyone on this trip.


All I have to say is that I am glad that it hasn’t taken me six months to become friends with all of you.



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