Once again back in Germany after Easter in Sweden and four days in London. In that state of clarity that follows from a filled schedule and sleep deprivation I gather my thoughts on the academic networking session during the last few days.
Doing my best to make some sort of memorable intelligent-clinging impression on the participating scientists, I talked a bit of my own work and did my best to follow the reasoning from the others. Burned into the retina of my social experiences is the moment that indeed ought to be highly memorable for all present, but perhaps not desirably so from my own perspective: When asked what I was actually paid to do, I answered in my naive fatuity: “Mostly I just think”. Double facepalm on that one.
Among the more familiar faces was Professor X and Dr. Who. Dr. Who mentioned in passing the ongoing battle of the heavyweight Titans in this Golden Age of the research field. What probably was never more than a sceptical comment from one Titan to another, turned my inner circus into a fearsome backstabbing battle of thunder, fire and earthquakes. Without any deep insight I knew immediately where my allegiance laid. Professor X on the other hand laughingly and repeatedly advised us in between cigarettes to “run away” from academia as soon as possible. Held in the highest of regards, Professor X adds a few more bricks to the internal little house of what-to-do-next in the favor of escape.
The last evening turned from what was intended to be a dance party – probably to everyone’s mild discomfort – out to be much smaller in scale. Somehow I ended up in what in others’ eyes, might have looked a lot like a date with two men simultaneously. From the club speakers the heart-beating Latino music was pumping; lively Salsa, sensual Merengue, suggestive Bachata, and I realized that I did not care much of what this constellation looked like.
In a Bachata rhythm I allowed myself the tiniest moment of self-destructive pretend. Mentally I prolonged that lingering feeling of warmth which once lasted a fraction longer than expected yet a lifetime too short. Again enlightened at the undeniable difference between the supernova that escalate at the brush of fingers from a particular someone and the apathetic indifference in an embrace of an arbitrary anybody. I forced my eyes open into reality and the fluttering of deluding butterflies were as so many times before, again silent. The evening continued with talk of life’s passion while having breakfast in the small hours.
Showing up for the hotel breakfast in a complete zombie-state the entertainment was on my expense. Long overdue was the pay-back mockery from my supervisor, leaving him in a state of enjoyment I rarely saw. While Latino dancing all night belongs on the top of amazing entertainment, clearly there is no pleasure like Shadenfreude.