Nostalgia - my next adventure11 Jul 2018
I’m writing this on a flight to San Francisco from Tel Aviv via Baltimore, where I spent the last couple weeks. This time, I have more than just the two small backpacks I carried with me throughout South America and lived off for the last 10 months. In the beginning of June, I joined System1 Biosciences in SF, as one of the first Machine Learning Scientists. It’s the coolest place to work (at least for my interest), and definitely worth doing over staying in Baltimore/Tel Aviv or continuing to travel throughout the world.
I would typically write something like this in the now section of my site, but this particular time incites a particular nostalgia (or saudade) that feels worthy of further reflection and a longer post. Being in Tel Aviv and Baltimore, flying to San Francisco - it felt different this time.
My siblings and Parisian cousins before a musical in Tel Aviv, featuring younger brother on his toes attempting to tower over me and my sister, and my way-too-bright shoes:
As a child growing up in Baltimore but spending the earlier portion of my life and summers in Tel Aviv, I always felt my stay in Baltimore was a temporary occurrence on the way back home. Why live in Baltimore, or the US at all for that matter? Tel Aviv had the hummus, the weather, the beach, the hi-tech, the beautiful Hebrew language, the culture, and everything else under the constant sun. All Baltimore had was Johns Hopkins, the Ravens, and Old Bay seasoning (which can be acquired outside of Baltimore).
Yet Baltimore also has a certain charm to it. Its vast greenery. Its ruggedness. The newest hip-hop and R&B heard on the streets. The university. The weather that’s either too cold or too humid. It’s a city with a ton of potential, and one I want to improve. And while I’ve struggled to admit it for years, it’s my hometown and where I spent my most formative years.
It’s thrilling and poignant to be moving from San Francisco to Baltimore. It’s thrilling, as San Francisco has a ton to offer, from arguably the largest concentration in the world of brilliant people working on solving big problems to culture to nature. And it’s yet poignant, as I leave behind my family, who are the most amazing and loving people I know.
2.5 years ago when in Neot Semedar, I had thought carefully of what I wanted to do do by right now. It was the process of discovery that I had pursued; particularly living a life different than the ones I had previously led in Tel Aviv, Baltimore, and San Francisco.
Marked by many days of crippling self-doubt, there becomes something extremely satisfying about realizing one’s visions. I practiced piano for hundreds of hours to freeze up in my 10-minute piano audition at Peabody Conservatory. I spent nights grappling with $\ell_1$ and $\ell_0$ minimization, wondering whether I could even get my MS at all, let alone during the span of my undergrad. I arrived in Buenos Aires with 0 plans, little control over the Spanish language, and a WhatsApp message from a friendly Argentinian I met on the internet that I could sleep on his mattress outside the city in Ramos Mejia if I wanted to. I abruptly hopped on 5 flights from Patagonia to pitch YC my previous cancer therapeutics project and be rejected 3 hours later. I lived on couches of strangers who became friends for 10 straight months.
A stroll throughout Ghent, Belgium - one of my favorite places during travels:
There’s a quote often attributed to Steve Jobs on how “the journey is the reward”. For me, it’s the crazy turns that have made this a spectacular year since leaving JHU - the chance interactions that turned into close bonds, the countless rejection, the beautiful sunsets over the lakes and mountains in Patagonia, the decision to one day learn Portuguese for fun, the agony of hitting every last note on the piano before getting kicked out of the practice rooms.
Thank you to everyone who helped me throughout this past year. I appreciate it more than you know.
Catching the sunsets in Patagonia