Sunday, February 20, 2011


I'd like to return to my post series on the life lessons of college. (See housemates and tidiness.)

My family watched LOST from the beginning. It first aired in 2004, my sophomore year of high school, and every Wednesday night at 8:00pm my family would gather together, tune into ABC, and spend the next hour gawking at the TV set.

Some people think that watching TV rots peoples' brains, but because of the thought-provoking conversations I was able to partake in surrounding the titillating subject matter of LOST (and other quality programming like Jersey Shore, That 70's Show, and Hoarders) I would argue that it does not. The best part of watching LOST was the conversation that my family would have at dinner the night after a new episode premiered. We each had so many theories about what the island was and who the others were and why the Dharma initiative existed—looking back, I don't think that any of our theories were even close to right, but it was so much fun to exchange opinions and laugh about all of the ridiculous things that happened on the show. (If you didn't regularly eat dinner with your family, I'm sorry. I suggest you try it out sometime.)

This obviously has nothing to do with my college experience. I'm getting there, I promise.

One of my favorite concepts of LOST was the idea of time travel. During season four, Daniel Faraday, a super brilliant physicist, revealed that the island the survivors of Flight 815 were trapped on was somehow able to exist in a different realm of time than the rest of the world. (Forgive me, all of you non-LOSTies, I'll make this explanation brief.) In one episode this other guy, Desmond, begins having flashes in which he travels back and forth through time. He finds himself living through memories, disoriented and increasingly frustrated that he is being ripped back and forth from one reality to another. In the present, Faraday comes to him and explains that in order to make the flashbacks stop and prevent his brain from turning to mush, he must find a constantsomething or someone that he make contact with no matter when or where he is. As soon as he made contact with his contact, who was a pretty girl named Penny, everything was okay.

When I got to college, I thought my constant would be the Salem Street Soda Shop. I thought it would keep me grounded, rooted in Apex. Not in an "I'm never moving out of my parents' house" kind of way—more like an "I'm proud of my hometown" kind of way.

I have so many awesome memories of the SSSS during high school. It had the best orangeade and the best barbecue sandwich, and the bestwell, I honestly don't remember what else was served there because I got the same thing to eat every time I went.

It was the place to meet up before going on an adventure. One Halloween, some friends and I decided we were going to drive to a private school about 30 minutes away and see a performance of Macbeth—except we called it Macdaddy and Elizabeth whenever we talked about it. (Yes, I was a theatre geek in high school. And yes, I spell theatre like that.) Anyway, I remember meeting up to caravan to the show; one of the planners of the group handing out a color-coded sheet of directions to all of the drivers as we sucked down sweet, sweet orangeades before hitting the road. The play was terrible. I'll really never forget how awful it was.

I also remember dashing to a car during my lunch period, cramming into the back of a Ford Taurus, speeding out of the parking lot, and praying that my friends and I would get to the Soda Shop with enough time to order, eat, and pay before the next bell rang. It was probably incredibly reckless to rush as much as we did, but I still think those barbecue sandwiches were worth it.

When I began college, I thought that the SSSS would still be where me and all of my high school buddies would meet to eat, catch up, and reminisce. However, my sophomore year, the Salem Street Soda Shop closed its doors for good. It might be a bit of an exaggeration to say that I was distraught, but only a bit of one. In Apex, it was a big deal.

My constant wasn't so constant.

Tears were shed, facebook groups were formed, and healing began.

Where the Salem Street Soda Shop once was, now sits the Salem Street Pub. They serve great philly cheesesteak sandwiches and a hambuger with peanut butter (it's called something like, "My Wife Said It'd Never Sell;" I still haven't tried it). The orangeade is gone and now they serve Big Boss' Bad Penny.

Over Christmas break I had the chance to spend some time at the Salem Street Pub. I realized as I sat at the bar with one of my best friends from high schoolthe soda shop isn't my constant—my constants are the people I continue to share memories about it with. Those friends who have remained through the years of my college experience, who have kept in touch, who have visited, they are my constants, and I love them deeply.


ariel e greenwood said...

yes! blogger is finally letting me comment on your blog!

an instructor I had a few years back used to say "we're putting our faith in the externals, and the externals are failing us!"

(picture a short, knobby man from Boston with big eyebrows and a mop of curly graying hair saying this to complete the effect)

anyway, I think there's so much wisdom in what he said, and in this post of yours as well. you write not only beautifully but effectively, Taylor; every new post is a treat.