Tonight I’m sitting on my grandparents’ porch in Chandler, AZ, listening to the chirping of insects and occasionally swatting them away from my face. The air is gritty and dry — you can smell that the ocean is a million miles away. It is nearly midnight and 94 degrees. I love it.

Compared to Boston, Chandler (just outside of Phoenix) is a goddamn vacation resort. There’s plenty of space to move around, it’s clean and quiet, and I’m not so damn sticky all the time. But that’s not why I’m typing this: I’m typing this to clear the clutter. To swipe away the proverbial cobwebs, abuzz with the same bugs harrying my screen, covering the surface of an important topic of conversation. That topic is, of course, graduation.

Graduation is something that haunts me in the same way that the ghost of a kind, beautiful woman might; she’s nice to have around, but there’s an inherently perturbing nature to her that can’t be forgotten or pushed aside. Whenever I spend more than a quiet moment contemplating the near future (I’m outta here in well under a year!), my hairs split and the beer grows warm in my hand. In other words: I’m annoyed and uncomfortable. I’ve spent the last three years becoming a new man in a place I love. The University of Oregon, and Eugene by extension, has my heart. I’ve had a number of incredible jobs with an even greater number of wonderful people. I’ve become a teacher. A supervisor. A romantic partner. A support network. I’ve found all of those things for myself. So, when I think of leaving, it’s with no small amount of heartbreak that I know I must find the next stone on the path. Stagnant water has a bad reputation for a reason, you know. It’ll make you sick.

So, more like a creek and less like a pond, I consider the pull of gravity. Gravity has a voice, too. Like the wind’s whispers, or the trees’ rustling, or the insects’ buzzing, gravity can speak, and it says this: “Grow more. The man you are is not the man you can be.”

And like that, I’ve decided: I will be growing next year. Probably even more than I have in the past three. Maybe more than I ever will again. Next year, I will be moving to East Asia to teach English as a foreign language. I use the broad metric of “East Asia” not because these plans are inconcrete, but because I am open to possibility. I’ve been interviewing for jobs in China (Dalian, Tianjin, and Qingdao more specifically) for the past week or so, and have a number of interviews coming in the next few days. I realize, though, that there’s high demand and a big world; I’ve looked at opportunities in Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, and Thailand as well, and who’s to say those won’t pan out?

In any case, I’ll write more on this later. For now, I’m tired, and the cobwebs are (mostly) taken care of. The buzzing has stopped.

What’s in a Name?

This’ll be short, but I want to get something down. A mission statement, I guess.

I am at a time in my life when a lot of decisions are being made. Things move so quickly, sometimes, that I make the choices I do just for the sake of having it done — which often makes me feel as though I’m holding life at an arm’s length.

I want to be honest with myself and the folks around me, and that means more than just not lying. It means understanding the “why” behind what I do and communicating that. Asking “why?” sucks. It’s uncomfortable. It gives me a headache. But it keeps me straight-up.

So: Why Con?

If you’re reading this, I assume you know that, for most of my life, I went by “Conner.” Conner is a fine name, and even if I never particularly liked it, it’s uncommon enough that I rarely had any name confusion. At the beginning of last summer, my first summer working for the Harvard Pre-College program, I spent some time thinking and decided to introduce myself as “Con” for the first time. I did this on a whim, more or less, but the more I thought about it, the more it made sense.

I am, truly, an entirely different person than who I was before college. Now, with the end of my undergraduate experience within sight, I have been forced to think about my identities more than ever before. My whiteness, my maleness, and my able-bodiedness are, as always, present, but beyond that: What do I wish to accomplish with my life? Who do I want to be in the lives of others? What makes me happy?

The answers to these questions are not apparent, but what is apparent is this: The answers are far different than what they were four years ago. They are far different than Conner’s answers. I am Con, and I am learning more about this new name every day. I want to write here so that you can learn with me, so I can take ownership of my life, and so we can be closer.