With each new semester, I greet an influx of nervous yet eager first-term students. They are so new they’ve still got the freshmen tags on them: they aren’t sure really how college works, nor where the bathrooms are located. Well, college works much like the rest of life: show up on time, do your best work, pay attention, be courteous, and make sure your name is on your work somewhere. The rewards from the collegiate experience are directly proportional to the effort and energy a student dedicates to it.
I’m so used to myself that I forget that I am new to them. Like really new. And, apparently, different.
A young student asked this morning: “Can I ask you a question, not a school question?”
My eyebrow rose: “I suppose.”
“Are you from here? You’re not, are you?”
Ah. No, no I’m not.
“I’m from California.”
“I thought so, you didn’t sound like you were from around here. Me neither, I’m from California, too.”
This young woman moved to SoKy (South Central Kentucky) when she was eleven. From Downey. I’m sure it took a while for her to recover from that culture shock.
This might have been a moment of profound realization, except that I came to this hard truth about four months after moving here: I will live here in the South, put down roots, grow tomatoes and green beans, stoke the tender fires of love for this place, but never quite really be from here.