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Lauren Shows; Sorry, I'm Not From Around Here

BLOG – Allow me to introduce myself

Allow me to introduce myself:

When I was born, my parents were living in Escatawpa, Mississippi, a place which, as far as I remember, is exactly the way it sounds. Escatawpa is located roughly 15 minutes from Trent Lott International Airport, and at the time, 45 minutes from the nearest hospital in Mobile, Alabama. And so I was born in Mobile, whose bay boasts the eternal docking of the USS Alabama, a WWII battleship. I spent the majority of my life in Panama City, Florida, whose beaches are famous for their white sands, sparkling waters, and the invasion of drunken college students every spring. My undergraduate years were spent in Tallahassee, Florida’s capital, at Florida State University, known impressively as one of the nation’s top ten party schools. And the last two years I spent in Lexington, Kentucky, purveyor of fine bourbons and horse capital of the world.

So I’m sure you’re wondering, with such an impressive dossier of locations under my belt, what could possibly land me in Yellow Springs?

Would you believe me if I said it was jealousy?

The first time I rolled into Yellow Springs as a visitor nearly two years ago, I was driving a 1983 Volkswagen Cabriolet with questionable brakes, pumping my fist in the air to Bon Jovi, on my way to visit my longish-distance boyfriend at his Union Street apartment. He had just moved to Yellow Springs from Wilmington, and this visit would mark the first time I was driving 2.5 hours to visit him.

Busy as I was, caught up in the chorus of “Livin’ On a Prayer,” I missed my turn from Dayton Street onto Stafford Street, and ended up downtown. By the time I made my way back around and onto Stafford Street, there was a solid amount of envy rolling around in my gut, directed at basically everybody that already lived in Yellow Springs, but mostly at my boyfriend. I was absolutely jealous that he was living in this colorful, friendly, devoid-of-traffic-noise town. I felt a little better after he took me to Young’s and bought me a bucket-sized milkshake, but the envy that I felt continued to grow that weekend, and on every subsequent visit.

Sometimes I like to imagine that he moved to Yellow Springs just to lure me to Ohio; almost two years later, my 1983 Volkswagen Cabriolet sits stationary in a parking lot on Union Street, I pump my fist to Bon Jovi now as I walk to work down Walnut Street, and my boyfriend and I spend our weekends discussing what color to paint the second bedroom in our apartment, which will soon house our forthcoming child. Life changes lightning-fast, and it’s sometimes difficult to trace the paths by which a person is led from one place to another. Like anybody else, I didn’t know the consequences that would arise from trading repartee with a poetry student in downtown Louisville. I can’t say that the decision to go on trading a lifetime of repartee with him was based solely on where he lived. I can say, however, that the minutes I spent driving around downtown Yellow Springs, trying to find my way to my destination, planted a seed of possibility in my mind, a seed that this could be my town, too, if things went well. So I’m glad, for many reasons, that they went well.

Having a job at the News, I have come to notice over my months here, comes with a certain expected amount of authority: I’m often asked by people who call or stop in what the best way is to get to a place, who owns this or that business, what is so and so’s number, etc. Sometimes I can save myself by taking a surreptitious glance in the Red Book, but a lot of times I have to admit: “Sorry, I’m not from around here.”

I have to ask myself: how long will it be before I’m “from around here”?

Well, in the strictest terms, maybe never. Maybe I will always look at this town with an eye from the outside, but frankly, that doesn’t bother me. I think it will only help me love my new home more.

So, in closing: I work at the Yellow Springs News, and despite my gender, everyone here calls me Chuck. You can call me that, too.

Nice to meet you, Yellow Springs.

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3 Responses to “BLOG – Allow me to introduce myself”

  1. Susan Gartner says:

    Sweet introduction, Chuck. I like the part about “trading repartee with a poetry student in downtown Louisville.” Belated welcome!

  2. Matt Minde says:

    Charles — it’s been 10 years, and I still feel this way. But at least I got to keep my name. —M

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