Robert Frost’s words come to mind quite often, even when they technically do not apply. I hope that my loose metaphorical use of his poetry does not take away from his work, but that it may instead set the scene for the topic at hand.
My best friend in high school was a girl named Allison. We are still friends, though based on the frequency of our communication, we may be reduced to acquaintances. We catch up properly less than once per year, but I think that we somehow manage to keep tabs on each other from afar, or through other people. Or maybe I’m just a casual stalker – I’ll let you be the judge.
Allison attends the University of Michigan and has spent several years studying in Germany. Her studies have been in the computer sciences, although I’m sure they have taken tangents into more specific departments than that. She maintains a blog for the UofM Roger M. Jones fellowship, or at least posts from time to time, and her recent post is what I’m here to write about.
To bring this back to the title I made such a hubbub about – Allison and I used to have very similar interests and aspirations. Maybe that was a byproduct of spending every waking moment together for years during high school, but I think there was more to it than that.
Now she is, as I said, studying security technologies from the computer science side, in Germany. If you read her post, which I encourage you to do, you might think to yourself, “this doesn’t sound anything like Tessa, why is this so significant to her?” And I get that – if you’ve read anything else here, it doesn’t sound like this at all.
But the part of Allison that is digging deeper within herself and her community to find ways to use her science to improve the ecosystem that is our society is the part I am most familiar with. The part of her that has the conviction to align her lifestyle with her ethics and because of this choose a vegetarian lifestyle – that’s the childhood friend I’m proud of and amazed by. That is the person I knew ten years ago and the person I’m going to know when we finally bump into each other a decade down the road.
For a time I wanted the life that Allison has – pursuing an interest and a passion and following through with it to be able to align my education and my life and form it into a means to improve the world around me. That’s still what I want, and what I have been trying to do, albeit in a very different way. It says a lot about people’s individual paths that we could be so interested in the same ideas and so much want the same things and end up in such different places.
Allison is in Germany, I am in New Hampshire. Allison is studying security tech, and I am a teacher. She’s swimming in the deep-end and I’m doggy-paddling in the kiddie pool.
So two lives diverged in a wood… or in a high school… and I’m not sure which one of us took the road less travelled (I am sure there are many). But what I do know is that this is a girl, a woman, that I am grateful to have known, and excited to know in the future. Keep doing great things, Allison!
(Allison – if for some reason you ever end up reading this post – forgive me for using the photo of you from high school – it’s just the most nostalgic one, so I couldn’t help myself.)