Joys of going home for the holidays

Three weeks off from school should be, by definition, wonderful. No classes, no reading, no papers. A chance to spend some quality time with Mom and Dad. For the good college student, a chance to earn money at that old summer job that always is glad to see you back. And of course, New Year’s Eve, which ranks up there with Halloween for high pressure-to-have-fun holidays.

I’m willing to bet I’m not the only GW student who found that somehow, once again, my expectations were not met. Seeing high school friends was of course slightly awkward, as I rarely e-mail them. Classes were replaced with TV and watching movies, which is always good. But after seeing literally EVERY holiday movie, the highlight of my days became “Charles in Charge” reruns, which is pathetic no matter how attractive I find Scott Baio.

I WAS going to work. I was going to make enough to pay for books. But that didn’t exactly work out either. I did pick up two shifts waiting tables at Applebee’s. But I quickly realized you can’t go back to waiting tables in Georgia, where people don’t believe in tipping, after waiting tables in D.C., where they do have that tradition. So I gave up.

I did have fun on New Year’s Eve and it also was good to see my family. But you have to understand, my hometown of Evans, Ga., isn’t like other people’s hometowns. It’s different. Almost surreal. I’ll explain.

First thing I noticed when I got home was that gas was 65 cents a gallon. What? That’s cheaper than a soda at J Street. And they have specials on Sundays and Wednesdays. This confuses me. I thought gas prices were connected to something a bit more complicated than the days of the week, you know, like something to do with the Middle East and supply and demand. Clearly I was wrong.

OK, so cheap gas. That’s a good thing right? It’s not worth it, friends. Another thing I have noticed is each time I come home a new Baptist church has popped up. Now I am not saying Baptist churches are a bad thing, only that we already have so many. I’m concerned that the next time I return home, there will be a new Baptist church where my house used to stand.

But that aside, the worst of all was being forced into having conversations with the natives. The Evans locals do not understand why I would willingly choose to go to a school other than the University of Georgia. They are not entirely sure that a school lacking a football team is a real school. They certainly have never heard of GW.

A typical conversation:

Person from my town: “You go to Georgetown, right?”

Me: “No, I go to The George Washington University.”

Person from my town: “Where’s that?”

Me (thinking this is obvious): “Washington, D.C.”

Person from my town: “What’re you studying?”

Me: “Political science.”

Pause, as the wheels are turning. Political science. Washington, D.C. There is a connection here somewhere …

Suddenly, a light bulb goes off.

Person from my town: “You’re majoring in political science? Well, (here comes the big punch line) D.C. is a great place to do it.”

At this point you can see them thinking how clever they are for knowing what political science is and connecting it to the fact that D.C. is the nation’s capital.

Oh, the hilarity. But it never fails – every person makes that joke. Then they usually say something about Clinton being Satan and finally they release me, walking away wondering to themselves why anyone would leave God’s country to go to school.

So, the fact of the matter is, no matter how much we fantasize about being home during finals week, or how good those first few days with our families are, no matter how much we complain about GW taking all our money and then wasting it on stupid things – we all came here partly to get away from where we grew up and I for one am sure glad to return.

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