We are getting settled in Charlottesville. Our apartment is beginning to look like a home (thanks to generous gifts of furniture from our parents, grandparents, and the Habitat Re-Store). We have also started to make friends, particularly with our neighbors. Par example, we walked a few blocks with Hannah and Olivia to Megan’s boyfriend’s apartment to watch the England vs. U.S. game.
It was about 98 degrees today and we walked into this sweaty, welcoming room of upper twenty-somethings piled on couches drinking PBRs. The game was being broadcast by a vintage projector on the wall and we were watching it on Unavision, delighted with the rapid-fire Spanish that was scarcely understood. I pressed myself flat against a bookshelf full of records and international books and observed. The women were beautiful and make-up free, all in dresses, with lots of bobby-pins and bangs between them. The men mostly wore their hair long and their shirts were either composed of plaid or political statements; one had a little girl on his hip, the other a tambourine. We joined them and they accepted us. Everyone was friendly. There were a lot of humanities grad students, a lot of “young professionals” who would never call themselves “young professionals.”
I realized, in my first moment of post-graduate self-awareness, that you have to change your language when you meet people now. The first question, after you exchange names, is no longer, “So, what’s your major?” but “So, what do you do?” It felt good to actually have something to say in answer to that question, although I still feel like a baby. By any comparison, I certainly am. Megan, our cheerful neighbor who invited us to the World Cup showing, mentioned in passing that she’s been in journalism for 10 years now. I nodded, as if I could relate.
It was a good day. The rain came thundering down halfway through the game. During halftime, we wandered onto the large front porch (which had its ceiling painted robin’s egg blue, which would have pleased my mother). Hannah (who is lovely, a fiction MFA student, reminds me of Rachel H.) stepped silently into the rain, looked up, turned around once, and then came back under the shelter of the porch. She performed this little act so gracefully and quietly; I was oddly impressed.
My husband (yes! I have one of those now!) is unpacking books in the living room. I need to switch over our laundry downstairs, write thank-you notes, make summer tea and dinner, and do a thousand other things. I start work on Monday. I feel happy and strange all at once.