Border Crossings and Bywords

November 25 2015

As our Soviet-era train lurched towards the frontier town of Kalotina, a Bulgarian official began going through each compartment to make sure everyone’s documents were in order. When he entered ours, he gave a cursory look at the pair passports from the guys in the top bunks, and seemed even less interested as he handed back the passports to the pair of sisters in the middle berths. But, after presenting him with our passports, he took them and quickly exited, making off towards the front of the train. My friend shot me a panicked look -- we’d already had a ‘misunderstanding’ at the Plovdiv airport that resulted in my friend’s temporary detention and the signing of a questionably legitimate affidavit about our intentions for staying in the country. So, I jumped up as quickly as possible and began chasing him down the corridor, trying, with my vast Bulgarian vocabulary of 20 words, to understand why our passports required further inspection. After giving a bored glances to the other passengers’ passports, he’d shake his head and try to shoo me back to my seat non-verbally. Finally, when we reached the cab he sighed and spat out that enduring line -- “Don’t worry, be happy.”

We got our passports back.

I’m a 21-year-old university student (though maybe 22 when this email is sent out). The past few years have been a lot and, if I’m being honest, “Don’t worry, be happy” fails to convey my actual response to most of life. Ideally, I’d regularly take a breath and recognize the futility of fretting over things but that hasn’t happened yet.

Anyway, here are some other things: My friend taught me the term “autoantonym” and I’m convinced the meaning of life is hidden in the self-awareness of that word. Is there a term for pairs of words that are usually antonyms but can be used as synonyms? Think - “I’m up for it/I’m down for it.” “This is a cool new album/This new album is hot!” Some good things to listen to: Frankie Cosmos, Cayetana, The Dodos Check out: "High Maintenance," Garfield Minus Garfield, and Ticket to Ride

If you have music recommendations, tales of border crossings, or know of any exciting internships in Boston (or elsewhere) next summer, please let me know!

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New Jersey

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