I love Springfield, Ohio. I really do. Even though it’s kind of a sorry excuse for a city, and even though the first word that comes to mind when I think of Springfield is “squalor,” I still have to appreciate it for its unique brand of undeniable desolation, if only because it was my home for the past four years. I loved the life that I had when I lived in Springfield, and the person that living there allowed me to become. There is nowhere on earth quite like Springfield, and no people like those who attend Wittenberg, or, you know, just hang around its campus a lot even though they don’t go there anymore, or never did.
Like the old man that we met at Station on Saturday, who graduated from Wittenberg 25 years ago and looked like Jerry Garcia and seemed like he had something slightly wrong with him because he kept blatantly staring at me when I was making a point not to look at him because his presence was making me uncomfortable, who according to Trainor is one of those bar flies who is always drunk off his ass at Station or Mcs and probably has quite a reputation for making college-age girls uncomfortable. Or the townie with the mohawk and the ninja mask who lives across the street from our sorority house, who is a karate master and has a closet where he stashes supplies for the imminent zombie apocalypse, who makes liquor potions with home-made labels and brings them to our parties, and who was the only person who gave me a Valentine this past Valentine’s Day. Or the friendly local bartender who always kisses us when we come into Station, who has a not-so-secret affinity for The Smiths and Shania Twain and plays them often on the jukebox, to the surprise of people like us who assume that black guys who bartend and DJ in Springfield don’t like country music or eighties British rock, and who took Gretchen, Trainor, and I out to Seasons for lunch on Sunday and paid for all of us and apparently knows everyone in Springfield, including all the people who were working at Seasons, the people who were walking out as we were walking in, and some guy on the street outside who looked like he may have been homeless. Just to name a few of the Springfield characters we encountered this past weekend.
So we go to Station and we order buttery nipples and pitchers and barbecue chicken pizza and we listen to Shania Twain on the jukebox, and I get excited when Jason Derulo comes on because it really is a bittersweet symphony, this life. And we get drunk, as per the usual, and end up at some house party where a guy we know is drinking a brown concoction out of a gallon jug, and when we ask him what it is he says “it’s Babymaker” and insists that we all try a swig. Even after seeing everyone on the porch make that “holy hell that tastes like death” face, I still took a swig and immediately regretted it, and we contemplated the irony of it being called Babymaker when it was very reminiscent of that punch those guys we knew used to make that they called Abortion In a Cup. Like I said, no people quite like Wittenberg people.
I’ve always said that I want to write a book someday about the ridiculous people I knew at Wittenberg, but there’s that whole thing about incriminating people, not to mention I don’t know if anyone would actually believe some of the stories I could tell. And anyway, a lot of the best stories aren’t really mine to tell. But the thing that’s so great about Wittenberg, and about any college experience but I think for some reason especially Wittenberg, is that it’s a lot of really different people thrown together in one really small place that already has a LOT of interesting characters of its own to begin with. That’s part of what makes college epic – it forces you to adjust who you are in order to survive within new surroundings and among new (often completely insane) people. At Wittenberg I was friends with a lot of people that I would not have been friends with in “the real world” or in high school or in any other setting outside of the Witt bubble, but they are what made me love my life there.
Like my friend who wasn’t around for our Saturday afternoon lounging session because she was at a polo match in Columbus with her parents and boyfriend. A polo match? Say what? “I don’t even know what they do at polo matches,” Gretchen said. Bruno described how the boyfriend was wearing a Polo shirt, Polo shorts, and Sperrys, an image that made us all giggle because the idea of someone wearing that outfit while standing on E. Madison Avenue is just funny. “I told him he was lookin’ fancy and he was like, ‘yup, I’m the fanciest hoodrat you’ll ever meet.'” We all laughed, and then it was like there was this pause and we all kind of had this Eureka moment because we realized that was such a novel but really accurate way to describe a lot of people we know. Well, maybe the hoodrat part more than the fancy part, but I think everyone has to have at least a little hoodrat in them to survive at all in Springfield. And for those who can manage being fancy, too – well, props to them, because I am probably about the least fancy person I know, and I guess that’s probably what always made it so easy for me to feel at home in Springfield, because if my family aren’t a bunch of hoodrats then they’re rednecks or hillbillies or something at least, and even though I grew up in a pretty wealthy town where they had polo matches at the Longaberger Mansion on weekends, I never went to one because…well because I was busy being a hoodrat, I guess, or wishing I were one anyway.
So there’s that, and then the fact that we of course heard “Don’t Stop Believin'” a bunch of times throughout our many treks to both Station and Mcs between Friday and Sunday. And Gretchen twisted her ankle and when we went to Station AGAIN on Sunday for beers “on the House” she asked Bordo for a bag of ice and he thought she was asking for some bad advice, which he no doubt could have also provided. And by the way, when I say “we” in this post I mean Gretchen and I, who were reliving the good old days, no longer as “Lynsey and Gretchen, your favorite freshmen” or as Jay and Silent Bob, but as the new and improved “Gretchen and Lynsey, your favorite alumnae” (that kind of rhymes, right?). Doing our thing, doing what we do best.
And I guess the point of this is to say that I miss the life of collegiate squalor I used to have at Wittenberg, but visiting Springfield wasn’t nearly as depressing as I thought it would be, even though I did cry a little bit when I was drunk on Saturday night, after Taylor and I sketched around the snake house trying to find somewhere to sleep but all new people were living in our former rooms and the basement is filled with mold now so we ended up passing out on the couches in the living room next to a half eaten McMurrays pizza and a box of leftover Asian Zing wings.
And since Gretchen and I have yet to devise an epic way to take Licking County by storm the same way we have become adept at taking Springfield, we will return there next month, and probably the month after that, and so on and so forth, because sometimes doing the thing that makes you happy is more important than doing the thing that makes you ‘grown up’ or ‘moved on’ or any of those other things we are supposed to be but are still so desperately avoiding.