Monday, March 06, 2006


On Saturday, it was my birthday. Picnic, rare sunny winter day in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park. There were a handful of friends there, a rather diverse group; some, known since my very first MIT days, others, known only for a few months, but all, invariably, in some way or another, having "pinged" me.

Heisenberg's uncertainty principle states that you cannot both know the position and momentum of a quantum particle at once, because, in performing the measurement to observe such properties, the tools with which you measure (for instance, a photon), are on the same "size" scale as the thing you want to measure, so you disturb the things you try to observe, and change them with the measurement. In quantum computing, the qubits, represented by means of a quantum particle (an electron, say, or a photon, etc) are always in an undefined, amorphous state, which paradoxically contains in itself all possible states, so long as the qubit is not "pinged", and observed, because when looking, querying, "pinging", in other words, you measure, and disturb, and coagulate the fuzzy state into something concrete, and what's more, if you had measured at a different time, or under a different circumstance, the defined state you end up observing is something different.

Such too are the good friends. They ping you and change you without your very much being able to do something about it. And that's a good thing. :)

The conversation, unpredictably, turns to my adventure plans: I had told some of my friends a few weeks prior, and it clearly weighed heavily on their minds, for the questions and speculations follow, even though I sit a bit apart, and intentionally try to avoid the discourse. Some of them, I already know, I will not see again before I depart, and there are others there, you see, that I don't want to tell, not now and not like this, at any rate, because then the knowledge of the goodbye lingers onerously, and ruins the moment, and it is always better, isn't it, to not know for sure this is the last meeting, and have the hope of another one, and at any rate, it is also more poetic, you see, when you know you're leaving, but the other person doesn't, especially if that person has "pinged" you more than most.

And then the betting pool begins. I cannot now avoid telling my unknowing friends, for I am unable to contain the information now in the open (imprudently, by now I had created too many witnesses), that spreads quickly and uncontrollably among the people there like wildfire, and amidst them that have known me for over 10 years, the conflict starts: some of them sure I will go, others sure I will change my mind before I even buy an airplane ticket, some of the recent acquaintances, whom you just now stupidly realize *you* have pinged more than most, object and try once again to convince you to move to San Francisco instead, that it is a very lively city just full of excitement, that will cure the boredom that your adventure promises to do, another, encouraging, charming, and optimistic, entreats you to send a postcard upon arrival in Istanbul, yet doesn't give you his home mail address, doubt carefully concealed in his eyes, behind the perhaps just a touch too enthusiastic face of faith and conviction, another, asking if I've already signed for a book deal, yet another, am I raising money for charity, and are you really never coming back to the US, me, just wanting to disappear, or stop the fire, thinking the departure should've been quiet, and unknown, irresponsible to any expectations of either success or failure of anyone's but my own, but most importantly, quiet to avoid the goodbyes, those dreaded goodbyes.

Two days later, I sit alone at a restaurant reading the Spain and Portugal guidebook I just purchased at the corner bookstore, and the contrast between now and Saturday is immense, the loneliness overwhelming you like a layered woolen blanket that barely lets you breathe, and the heart thumps faster while the lungs refuse to expand, and I can't help thinking: "Oh, God, Elisa, this is the stupidest idea you've had in a very, very long time! What the hell were you thinking? Maybe you really are falling off your rocker, you know."

Luckily, two hours later, the feeling is gone. I go home and finish packing a boxfull of old novels, and that night dream of cycling through the mountains.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I Dio vende i beni a prezzo di fatica.(anche "fatica affettiva")but After the rain there is always a rainbow...Ti voglio tanto bene. Olga