Monday, August 20, 2007

School Supplies

The emails keep coming, all kind, all solicitous, all asking, "How's Virginia?" The state, they mean.

Here's Virginia, the state-- endless townhouses, lovely blue ridges, surprisingly cool mornings.

And here's Virginia:

At the SuperTarget, Home Of A Bunch of Crap That's Marginally Close To What You Actually Need But Also An Entire Aisle of Nothing But Mix-And-Match Jelly Bellys, I keep seeing college students toting full carts, bedspreads stuffed in the undercarriage, and at least one parent.

Most of them are wearing Virginia Tech shirts.

They don't look any different from any other college student in Targets, Wal-Marts, Scam's Clubs across this great land of ours. Their faces hold exactly the same half-hassled, mostly sweaty expression I had ten years ago when my parents towed me to Meijer's for a last minute supply of bottled water before leaving me, carless, to conduct my book research.

But nobody ever burst into Madeleva Hall with an automatic weapon and started lining up my classmates against a wall. These VA Tech families wandered the drapery aisle pushing a burden and a pain and a unique reluctance to separate that I care not to contemplate. Every time I came upon one of these little groups, whatever nostalgia I might have experienced otherwise was swept away by an overwhelming desire to arrange all of us in a prayer circle, or tetrahedron of healing, or something.

Because there's really nothing I could say.

not covered during student teaching at:


Anonymous said...

MB, I've read your blog for quite awhile now (since before the move from FL to VA and the wedding). You always inspire such imagery in your writing. I can completely imagine pushing a cart through the endless aisles of Target, listening to the Muzak, the screaming/whining children, and the PA system. The transition from that to the quiet little groups of VA Tech students and families stocking up for the move back into the dorms is jarring.

Thanks for reminding me that these kids will continue to go stoically on through their college careers, even as their campus will never be the same. May they have a peaceful school year, where the most exciting event is a party where the music is too loud.....or where the opposing team's mascot is taken.....something completely mundane like that.

On another note, thanks for mentioning Meijer. As a transplant from Indiana to Arizona, I'd almost forgotten about that store chain. Smaller than Super Wal-Mart, but MUCH easier to navigate! I grew up in Angola, IN. A little town about 90 minutes east of South Bend.

Anonymous said...

Why, thank you, anon. Although in the first paragraph, I think you just wrote this post better than I did.

Mega-props to Meijer, for which I shall ever have a deep affection. When you don't have a car, a trip to The Big M was a major event. It was source of the best dance gifts, and one of my fellow writers on the ND student magazine once wrote a story entitled "24 Hours At Meijer." Kid stayed there an entire day.

Me, I enjoyed visiting the goldfish. And the gerbils. Once a staff member was cleaning the cages when I came to visit, and she let me hold one of them. Which promptly pooped in my hand.

Congratulations on having occupied two of my favorite states :)

tamar said...

I went to Meijers last night! I didn't realize that they reached down into OH as well.

I'll never forget getting kissed by my crush of 1/2 year in the beanbag aisle. Sigh.... :)

P.S. I was 15, it wasn't last night. Or even last year, or even the past decade. Man, now I feel old. Curses! Thanks MB, now I realize again that I'm getting to be an old fart.

28 in life, but forever 15 in my head. :)

Anonymous said...


Gosh! Thanks so very much!!! I'm speechless!! You've made my, my YEAR by complimenting my writing. I've been told before that I'm a good writer, but never by a professional.
I teach third grade out here in AZ, and I'm beginning the process of teaching a classroom of eight year olds how to write and why they should write. Any suggestions?
I would love to tell them "A very important writer wants us to know...."

I have to try to get them to realize that writing is much more important than just being able to get a good score on the AIMS (Arizona's standardized test). They think that's all writing is good for.

Thanks again for giving me validation for something I love to do, but have sort of neglected in the past couple of years.

On the subject of Meijer, a trip to the pet department was ALWAYS a must when visiting our local Meijer in Angola. They would let my daycare kids hold any of the animal. In fact, I had to practically frisk the kids to make sure they weren't hiding contraband critters. Caught one kid trying to stuff a hamster into her jeans pocket. Poor little fuzzball---it was panic stricken!!!

Anonymous said...

As a parent who just delivered my youngest to Blacksburg to start her freshman year, I was impressed by the determination of the students to avoid having their school or their experience defined solely by the events of last April. Many, like my daughter, made their decision to attend VT based in part on the response to the tragedy - a decision that has resulted in students being tripled up in doubles, placed with RAs and housed in converted study lounges to accommodate the arriving students. We are Virginia Tech.

Anonymous said...

Anon 1: You are very welcome. I think I'll address your Advice to Very Young Writers in an upcoming post :)

Anon 2: God bless you, your family, and your daughter's college choice. The response has been a true testament to the community, and I'm sure your "baby" will have a fruitful four years.

grammar_queen said...

I can confirm that Meijer, in fact, reaches as far south as Kentucky. I lived about a mile from the Meijer in Lexington -- in fact, I watched the transformation from empty field to Meijer shopping complex. I live in Ashland now, and, alas, no Meijer. It was so much better than Wal-Mart.

On a side note, I also received my thank you card. Is it proper etiquette to thank you for a thank you card?

red pill junkie said...

Caught one kid trying to stuff a hamster into her jeans pocket. Poor little fuzzball---it was panic stricken!!!

Is that a hamster in your pocket or... Oh! Never mind ;-)

PS: Endeavour returned safely! Thumbs Up.

Anonymous said...

Yes, and it's also proper ettiqute to say thank you to the thank you for the thank you card.

mike got hammered on saturday said...

it's also proper ettiqute to say thank you to the thank you for the thank you card.

You've gotta be kidding me. My thank-you card is the conscious choice to NOT drink all your beer.

"Hey, you #$&^!!, you only left me one beer."
"You're welcome."

As for VT, I never once had a doubt that they'll come through this stronger. This was confirmed when, about a week after the shootings, the student body basically told the media to take its 'round-the-clock coverage, maudlin commercial-intro music, and almost innate ability to focus so much attention on the man who least deserved it and get the hell off their campus. VT's slogan is "Invent The Future," and it's tough to move on and do that when a bunch of overzealous hacks are in their faces asking about how they'll possibly move on.

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