Our view of Fenway.
One nifty thing I’ve loved about attending Southern Virginia is the proximity to so many awesome historic and beautiful locations that seemed so distant to my little Northwestern self when I was a wee lass in Oregon.
Living on the East Coast has provided me with opportunities to see some of the very far-off places I read about as a kid, and this past summer has been so jam-packed with great East Coast experiences that I couldn’t help reflecting on how grateful I am to be here. I felt that gratitude as I sat on an airplane, heading toward Boston, Mass., one such far-off location that I’d previously only visited in American history textbooks and TV shows.
Quincy Market, one of the oldest and most bustling areas of Boston.
I met my mom in Boston for the Fourth of July weekend, and, with the help of a savvy Bostonian (son of Irish immigrants with the coolest accent. He’s the real deal), we basked in all things New England. We stayed at a hotel smack dab in Kenmore Square and neighboring Fenway Stadium, home of the Boston Red Sox (you might have heard of them). We sat just above the dugout during a Red Sox game, ate gelato in the North End, strolled into Tiffany’s and promptly bought nothing, and watched fireworks and listened to the Boston Pops on the 4th from the balcony of a house on Beacon Street. It was the perfect trip.
But it wasn’t just checking off boxes on the list of Boston sites that made it so extraordinary. Of course, the people we met (so great) and the buildings we saw (extraordinary) and the food we ate (oh man) contributed to the perfection, but there was something more to it. And that something more, I came to realize, was the influence of the liberal arts education I’d been receiving back in Buena Vista.
I think the realization really hit when I was sitting at the Red Sox game, having fun but totally lost where the game was concerned (we had to keep asking other people what the score was), and a couple of middle-aged men sat down beside me. Before I knew it, I was having a conversation with one of them about Niccolo Machiavelli’s “The Prince.” Okay, “conversation” might not be the correct word. We were gabbing. We were talking about Machiavelli like he was a member of One Direction and we were fangirls (which, thankfully for everyone involved, is definitely a simile). Because that’s what Southern Virginia has made me: A fangirl. A fangirl of things literary, historical, theatrical, philosophical. A fangirl of the liberal arts.
Leaving a writing utensil is a time-honored tradition on Author’s Ridge.
As the trip continued and we visited Concord, my fangirly heart almost couldn’t take it. We visited the home of Louisa May Alcott, author of “Little Women” and the first book that ever made me cry. We learned that her father was a pal of greats like Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson. Emerson even supported the Alcotts for years. We saw his house down the road and Nathaniel Hawthorne’s next door (not even kidding), and I took a stroll on the shores of Walden Pond. Finally, I visited Sleepy Hollow Cemetery and “Author’s Ridge,” where Alcott, Thoreau, Emerson, and Hawthorne are buried.
And the entire time, I kept thanking my lucky stars that I’d taken that American literature class from Professor Cluff my first semester. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have known of my love for Emerson’s essays or been excited to pick up Thoreau’s “October, Or Autumnal Tints” at the bookstore. Nor would I have been so starstruck by Emerson’s study.
Realizing the way my education has permeated my life made me all the more appreciative for all that Southern Virginia has given me, and all the more excited to find out what another year’s study will do to enrich my little existence. Who knows which literary great I’ll be fangirling next?
Myself in front of Orchard House, the Alcott’s home.
(Post and photos by Madeleine Gail Rex ’16.)