Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

A Hoya Heads Home

Los Angeles, Day One. I’ve never been anywhere in between the two coasts. And that’s about to change.

My roommate and I are leaving Los Angeles at mid-morning. Senior year is our destination, 3,000 miles away. I’m leaving one home, heading for another and I’m not sure how to reconcile the two.

We’re driving east and I’m wondering why I’ve left this place.

Born and raised in this city, I never felt like I had a reason to go anywhere else. And it was hard to imagine why anyone would live anywhere else.

And of course, I thought I’d never live anywhere else – it just seemed like too much to pass up. Los Angeles is a veritable melting pot of cultures, languages and peoples spread over a sprawling urban landscape of beaches, valleys and mountains. People who think good weather is overrated haven’t lived here, because the weather is too good, all year long.

My roommate is trying to convince me to return after I graduate. His license plates are, too. “STAYNLA,” they say.

But now I’m leaving L.A. with no set plans to return permanently anytime soon and I can’t understand how that happened.

Usually people move west, not east. Over two centuries, my family has moved from Greece to Spain to Cuba to the Eastern United States to Los Angeles. So I can’t help but feel I’m going the wrong direction. Don’t people move because they need a change? Certainly not when home is somewhere so full of fond memories.

After 40 minutes on the road, we pass Claremont McKenna College – the school I almost chose.

Many of us wonder what it would have been like if we’d chosen that “other school” (or if that “other school” had only chosen us). I do the same now.

It’s a school so similar to Georgetown. Government, international affairs and econ are their biggest academic draws. And yet it’s very different. The school’s a short drive from home and has fewer than 1,000 students.

If I’d gone there, I’d be at school by now. Just a 40-minute drive, not a four-day odyssey. I’d be more likely to stay home, but who knows what I might have missed out on.

With Los Angeles behind us, there’s a point where the landscape changes from rolling hills, rising mountains, to flat nothingness. We don’t get past this flat nothingness for, well, most of the next three days. That’s what I’ve been led to believe anyway, having never seen any of this country in between the two coasts.

Salt Lake City, Day Two. Something does exist in between these two coasts, it turns out. Las Vegas, which feels part suburban Los Angeles, part world’s largest amusement park for adults, and Salt Lake City.

On my two coasts we snicker about these “red states.” They shop at Wal-Marts. They drive pick-up trucks. They own guns. They don’t like people different from themselves.

My two coasts aren’t perfect, but we often think we’re better. The same ignorance on Main Street in Cheyenne or Lincoln can probably be found in the elitism of West Coast coffee houses or East Coast boarding schools.

There’s something remarkable in the nothingness that extends between the two coasts. For miles in every direction, there doesn’t seem to be anything. After driving for 30 minutes, we’ll happen upon a town, which is pretty much an intersection of a road with the interstate, a cluster of homes and buildings, nothing more. Then another vast expanse of American countryside.

There’s more than nothing here. This empty space is populated by people. For them, it’s home.

Maybe that’s why Taco Bell seems so appealing when we pass through one just 100 miles west of Omaha. We eat dinner there. At least it’s familiar.

Iowa, Day Three. Each day we want to get on the road quickly, so we skip breakfast. It’s okay though, because my roommate and I have been supplied with blueberry muffins, made fresh by my mom just before we left home. Blueberry muffins remind me of home, even at a Motel 6 in Avoca, Iowa.

We drive quickly through Illinois, Indiana and Ohio. (A bit too quickly, the state troopers tell me.) But we make a stop at Notre Dame.

A beautiful campus, I say. But no town, my roommate reminds me – maybe that explains all the free parking.

Strolling past quads and lawns, it dawns on me: The community seems to matter more than the location.

Nice weather (California) or a great town (Georgetown) aside, there’s something about Notre Dame that reminds me how people make places, and not the other way around. It seems like a good lesson to hear, before driving on to Washington.

So I drive east, but the direction doesn’t seem to matter. I’m just trying to go home.

Nick Timiraos is a senior in the College and a former editor in chief of THE HOYA. He can be reached at DAYS ON THE HILLTOP appears every Friday.

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