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Some thoughts on home and place

October 29, 2021

This piece represents the opinion of the author.
Kate Padilla

There I found myself, in an unfamiliar land, surrounded by familiar faces. After an eventful day of getting lost on the subway, missing breakfast and facing near (phone battery) death, it’s easy to see why I found a certain respite in fresh New York City bagels and conversation with high school friends.

Disregarding the flock of pigeons crowded beneath my feet, this company felt strange. For the past month, the Bowdoin bubble had completely engulfed my vision. Suddenly, the references I had accumulated, names I had learned , and my shared experiences at Bowdoin became mute. However, the cultural shift between the two communities that I experienced while talking to my friends was unnoticeable. Life updates from school quickly trailed off into reminiscing about home.

Despite only being gone for a month, my friends and I had already put Nashville into a special part of our mind. Not quite home yet not quite unknown, it occupied an odd liminal space. Even with plenty of similarities between our new and old environments, it felt like there was a layer of gauze laid on top of our memories. As near as Nashville was to our hearts, it already had begun to feel like some distant land, known to us and only us.

I  sprung to ask the question that I had been pondering after weeks of being asked about it: what makes our home city unique to us? It appeared that this question had been on all of our minds for quite a bit of time. Bowdoin is the first community that’s asked me to explain my home to others. In a world of J.O.B.s, the concepts of “Nashville” and “Tennessee” are little known at best. Even though we were on the street in New York, it felt like a safe time and space to unpack our thoughts; our little, created-for-the-afternoon community felt like home, somehow. Would we always represent Nashville? Would it always represent us? Can we, and should we, love that place?

The conversation slowly began to take shape around one central question: how do we form home? One of those with me raised an interesting point. In the age of the internet, our cultural compasses are for the most part pretty aligned, based on interest and political persuasion rather than location. One may share more with someone thousands of miles away than their own neighbor. Even with this knowledge in mind, my friend still felt a visceral and real connection to his home city.

Perhaps it’s more based on your community then? Those people who you call your neighbors, those who you call your friends, do they influence you, your perception of the world around you and your attitudes about the people in your life (both strangers and friends)? I think so.

It makes sense then, that, for a brief moment in time, I found myself transported back home, even on a park bench in New York City.

So, even as the weather grows colder, the skies shift to gray and the rain continues to fall, I’m charged with a certain resolve to experience Maine and Bowdoin for all they have to offer, this year and for the next four. My goal is not just to find community amongst the wonderful people at this school and to give plenty of Bowdoin “hellos,” but also to really find home in the nature of Maine, to explore the surrounding towns for what they have to offer and to immerse myself in the history of the school. To put it simply, I strive to reach the Offer of the College. Join me on this mission, please. Let’s make Maine ours.

Michael Gordon is a member of the Class of 2025.

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