Creighton University, Tilt-shift time-lapse from ArtsyFartsyTim on Vimeo.
It's a little early, but soon, Creighton University will gear up for its annual Christmas at Creighton ritual. The ritual itself was only important because of the hot chocolate and cold-weather camaraderie. Chances are, students walked to the whirly-gig water fountain with a friend, but ran into people unseen since freshmen year in Gallagher Hall.
Together the students caught up, reminisced and complimented each other's cozy winter wear. Oh yeah, and the t-shirts. Everyone bought a t-shirt. A campus event was nothing without a cleverly designed and ill-fitting short-sleeve crew neck tee.
After the Christmas at Creighton event itself, the campus glowed with white lights in the leaf-less and evergreen trees. Except for the token Bluejay tree. That one twinkled the same color as the blue trim on the V.J. and Angela Skutt Student Center.
The lights stayed on. All day. All night. The lights made it so the 4 a.m. walks home from the Creightonian newsroom didn't feel so cold anymore.
Those are my memories of school.
Walking to an event like Christmas at Creighton with one friend and running into people you hadn't seen or spoken to in three years. Good memories.
But memories that are so unlike those of country people.
Unless someone is no longer living, country people don't go three years without speaking. They barely go three days without speaking. And their friends, they didn't meet each other freshmen year. They didn't sit behind you in that one philosophy class that one semester either.
They sat behind each other in every class of every year until someone moved or graduated high school.
So they know their classmates, classmates' siblings, parents, grandparents and cousins twice removed. And they know that Classmate A's mom is now divorced and dating the dad of Classmate B. And how Classmate C had an affair with the uncle of Classmate D. And how Classmate A's mom and Classmate D's uncle are brother and sister.
The connections are like a North Dakota winter: it feels OK at first but Jesus is it over yet? No... it lasts forever.
Sometimes it's nice to be anonymous.
Rarely do I want to dress appropriately for an outing to the grocery store. Pajama pants do the job just fine.
But should I even consider such a repulsive thought, my boss shows up along with the superintendent of schools, police chief and all five members of the Stutsman County Commission.
I have about the worst of both worlds. I know enough people to be recognized, but I still don't know the mayor well enough to be comfortable conversing with her while wearing the rubber-duck print on the boxers I'd just slept in. And since it's Jamestown, the mayor would likely recognize me and call me by name. Pretty much.
But when I go anywhere with Cowboy, be that on my home-turf of Jamestown of his home-turf of all areas south, he knows everyone. Every. Single. Time. It's like that. Bar, movie, grocery store, farm auction...
"I hate going to Wal-Mart," Cowboy said to a table of five the night he planned a dinner for two. "Even if I only want milk, it takes me an hour and a half because I know everybody."
It takes me a hour and a half too. But that's because I walked by an eyelash curler I had to have.
In a small town, everybody's pretty much a big deal. Everyone's famous. Or infamous. You can't make a mistake one decade and expect people to forget it by the next.
I guess that makes for more honest and loyal neighbors. And maybe makes people dress better too. Just kidding. Dressing up in this town means wearing black jeans instead of blue ones.
So I guess I have to adjust.
I just don't know how I'm going to tell those rubber duckies that they aren't allowed in public anymore...
Bravo to ArtsyFartyTim for the Creighton time-lapse video.