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I wake up at 7:30, hit snooze, and finally get out of bed 9 minutes later. The sun is creeping in through a small crack between the blinds and the bottom of the window, yet somehow it’s so cold in my room that it feels like my bones are going to snap as I walk. In the morning, I’m a robot. Four eggs, two whole-wheat English muffins, whey protein, vitamin, toothbrush, toothpaste, clothes, backpack, door.

I walk to the bus stop on Shattuck and Ashby. The freezing Berkeley morning air whips my cheeks as I put my hood over my head. And here I wait, for 17 minutes, no matter what time I leave the apartment, with my headphones in my ears and backpack over my shoulders, a Berkeley student, an East Bay local.

On the bus, I move to the back. People’s mouths are moving, but all I can hear is my music. Their expressions change, they move their limbs, their bodies change positions, they smile, they nod their heads, “yes.” I am the observer, in a different world, hearing different sounds. I am part of the iPod generation. In our own worlds, we are in control of our destinies. We are the authors of our own destruction. We put headphones in and forget about everything. We rebel against time and space. We send cries off rooftops to disturb the peaceful population. We close our eyes, and lose our fear of falling, of losing, of living. We’re together but alone. We’re blissful but dead. We’re harmonious but broken. We’re held but isolated. We’re lovers of life. We’re enemies of normalcy. We laugh in the faces of those who judge us.  We form a perfect union, conjure up a balance, create light, poor gasoline on old stomping grounds, set them ablaze and watch giant wildfires pierce holes through the night.

It’s time to get off of the bus. I mutter the words, “thank you,” to the bus driver. But I hear nothing come out of my mouth. Back to the whipping cold of Berkeley air. Gray smoke bleeds through vents in the sidewalk. Welcome to the University of California at Berkeley. I look up to see the large clock tower presiding over the morning, and a large signpost, saying, in big letters, “POSSIBILITY.” Other signposts line the walkway, with pictures and quotes of Cal students.

“I feel like I can do anything here!”

“Cal taught me that it’s what’s on the inside that counts.”

“Who knew you could be 55 years old and be a Cal graduate!”

Once I’m in class, my headphones still in, again I marvel at the moving mouths, the gestures, the motions. It’s a beautiful dance, a give and take. I take my headphones out and I’m blasted with sounds of voices, snippets of conversations. My ears pick up on the one directly behind me.

“She’s the kind of girl that like, when you first meet her, she’s all quiet, but when you get to know her, she’s really fun. She’s actually pretty amazing.”

I take my books out, put my eyeglasses on, and reflect on all of the little moments, all the little movements that have brought me to this seat, in this classroom, in the Valley Life Sciences Building at the University of California. I can’t help but smile. And then that smile turns into all out laughter. The girl sitting next to me glances at me, but doesn’t say a word. I look back at her, shrug my shoulders slightly, and say, “You know what I mean?”

But to her,

it was just a random moving mouth

with no sound.

It was just a gesture,

a change of expression,

and nothing more.

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