In the living room of my apartment is a bookshelf with three tiers. Most of the soft-cover books are fiction that I’ve brought along on the past five moves: Orwell, Vonnegut, Huxley, all authors I loved when I was nineteen and moving away from my parents. Some of the newer ones are nonfiction and memoir, as my studies have accommodated such readings. The top two shelves are replete with these books, originally shelved in neat vertical rows; now the books have been pulled out and reread, placed back horizontally, sideways, upside-down.
On the bottom shelf lay all my physics and mathematics textbooks from my first undergraduate school. Introduction to Physics Volumes I and II, Modern physics, thermodynamics, electricity and magnetism. These books haven’t been touched in months, maybe years, even though I’ve brought them with me since 2004 when I first dropped out. Every time I look at them I think about the passion I had for learning about physics, about the friends I made and lost at Fordham, about how I left and never spoke to many of them again, about how it took seven years for me to get over the shame of leaving. Every once in a while I open the book furthest to the left – a brightly colored multi-variable calculus book that I loved, literally, to pieces (the cover is quite tattered), and read some equations that make me smile at the thought of how hard I used to work on them, and remember what it was like when I thought I knew exactly what I wanted.