As you know, Paris as of now is recovering from a great tragedy. All over the world, countries are extending their support in these times. For example, when the attacks of September 11, 2001 occurred, Paris honored the United States by hosting a ceremonial flag service with the American flag in front of the Eiffel Tower. Likewise, citizens all over the world are also trying to show their support, but in a different way – through social media. Facebook is now offering the option to place a transparent blue, white, and red filter over profile pictures, resembling the French flag. Like most movements on social media, this is sparked a controversy.Some claim that it’s the best that they can do to support the French people. Others don’t seem to see the great deed of a simple filter. I find myself somewhat in between these two stances…while it is great for all to have an opportunity to express their support, I think it may be unfair to other countries who have been facing terrorism for weeks, months, and years on end. Why is it so easy to forget about our own troops in Iraq? Lebanon? Turkey? Syria? Palestine? The Nigerian girls? The too-often school shootings in the United States? The Nepal earthquake victims? Let’s not let a simple photo change be our “way of showing support.” Or a reposted prayer with a hashtag. Instead, let’s do something kind for someone else in remembrance of France, or actually say a prayer for them, or better yet, both?
You never know just quite how much times have changed until you talk to someone who grew up in a different time. Talking to someone a few decades older can literally change your perspective on everything – especially how relationships have evolved. In the early 1800s, the concept of courtship became popular, and continued onto the 1900s, where it has now almost completely become obsolete and “old fashioned.” If you ask an elderly person about their relationships during their youth, you’ll often hear about picking flowers out of the garden to give to their girlfriends, or writing long letters on paper to show their girlfriend how much they care for them in words. You’ll hear about how long it took to take the courage to ask her if he could hold her hand, or how scared they were when they finally did. And, my favorite, how he asked her father for permission to marry his daughter. You’ll never hear about how he “messaged her on Tinder” or “slid into her dm’s.”. You won’t hear about how “she liked his pics” so she obviously “wanted” him. You won’t hear about how she is his “bae” or how “bad” she is. Our generation has lost our sense of class and has turned into a hookup society. There are no courtships, no flowers, no love letters. Permission to marry a man’s daughter has turned into a quick drunk night in Vegas, with quick papers and a quick kiss, and ultimately, a quick marriage.
I grew up as a military child, so naturally, I was always surrounded by other military families and authorities. My grandfather was in the U.S. Navy and his daughter, my mother, married into military. My dad was a U.S. Army Ranger and now, ironically, I too, am involved in a military relationship. I’m always on base and throughout the years, I’ve noticed that soldiers have a thing for Marvel. Whether it be in an executive office, or in a barracks room, there seems to be a common theme of some sort of Marvel memorabilia…specifically Captain America. I’ve come to the conclusion that they can almost look up to, or relate, to superheroes. Soldiers, without a second thought, put their lives on the line and continuously put their lives in danger for the freedom of others, just like the superheroes always do. However, we seem to always glorify superheroes and never think about how the military are our superheroes. We have a millions of Captain Americas…some who are older and some who are still fighting our country’s battle for us.
James Madison University is no doubt known for their rising reputation as one of the safest campuses on the east coast. I remember a week ago, I had a friend visit and we went to E-Hall to eat dinner. I walked in, paid, and set my computer, backpack, and phone down onto the table without second thought and walked away to get food. The look on her face showed that she could not believe I was just going to leave my stuff there, and asked if I wanted her to stay at the table and switch places when she got back. It’s funny how it’s become almost second nature to me to just leave my belongings – both valuable and not- alone at a full dining hall. It’s comforting to know that if I need to walk from one dorm to the other late at night, I’ll be okay, where as at home, you cannot even walk through parking lots without the necessity to be as alert as possible. I’ve never experienced such familiarity with such a large place in such a short amount of time. I know that I can take more than I can hold when making trips because really, what JMU student won’t be there to hold a door for you when you’re half a mile away? Another reason why I LOVE JMU 🙂
Today started off as a typical Monday, you know, where everything ‘seems’ to go wrong. I slept in just a little too late, and didn’t have time to get ready for class. Meaning – it was just brushing my teeth and throwing on some fresh clothes walking to class. Mind you, in high school, I had a uniform and everything and everyone always looks perfect, groomed, and pristine. Wearing anything less than something that you would wear to an interview with the President. I had a class on the opposite side of campus, so I grabbed all of my books, threw them into my backpack, and put on a jacket. Of course after I walked outside, it was far too warm for a jacket but there was no time to spare. I walked into class with just three minutes to spare, and realized quickly that I had forgotten my pen…and my pencil….and I brought the wrong book. There was just so much going on and I couldn’t seem to think of a positive thing that had happened and then I came to this…
It’s so important to remember that even on our worst days, we are blessed. When our phone chargers break, we need to remember to be thankful that we even have a phone. When we are thirsty, we have to remember that we are really lucky to even know that we have access to water sometime soon. When we complain that we have a lot of work to do, we have to remember that so many people will kill for an education. There’s just so much that could be worse, we have to remember to count our blessings and be thankful.
How many times, do you think, have you been asked what your major is these past two months? How many times, right after that, are you asked what you want to do with your major? It seems like you’re shuffled into categories based on your answer. Is your major good enough? Are your plans realistic? Can you support a family with the income you’ll be making? It’s almost like we are writing little autobiographies for ourselves, or are getting interviewed everywhere we go. The scariest part is, everyone seems to have figured it out. They want to do this or that for this reason or that reason. Or they’ve wanted to do this since they could talk. And then there’s me, still trying to figure out what I want. Hell, I still take half an hour to decide what I want to order at a restaurant…from a kid’s menu – while people are at home, getting engaged or started families. I’ve always thought myself to be behind in my life, considering everyone else has their 10 year plan, or have families already starting! The face of pity every freshman is used to seeing when they respond, “I’m undeclared.” Why didn’t I have a passion for firefighting? Or an FBI agent? Or a kindergarten teacher? I know what I’m good at…but what do I want? And then suddenly, it hit me. I don’t HAVE to know what I want to do for the rest of my life right now. I don’t HAVE to know how many kids I want right now. I don’t HAVE to know what my wedding dress will look like and I surely don’t HAVE to decide the rest of my life at 18 years old…nor do I want to. It’s okay to not know- it’ll just make you sure of what you want when you figure it out, and to that, there’s no rush. Life is too short to have EVERYTHING figured out. So. slow down. and when it happens, it happens.
It was never just a goodbye; there was always an “I love you” attached at the end followed by a, “be safe.” “See you soon.” I grew up as a military daughter, so when my dad would get deployed, I often wouldn’t know when or if I would see him again. I’ll never forget each deployment, and how each time, though I had been through it before, it would become more and more difficult. It never was. As you can imagine, my life is and has always been full of expected goodbyes, and sometimes, unexpected goodbyes. I’ll never forget on my dad’s most recent deployment, I was so distraught that I resorted to staying in my room to sit in my own sorrow. It seemed like each day, I would nearly sprint to the mailbox to see if a letter had arrived, or I would constantly refresh my Facebook in hopes of a video chat. Somedays, it was all I could think about. I felt as if I was always looking for some sort of sign of him, though I knew exactly where he was. I was always searching. Always. After receiving the assignment of the personal narrative, I was, once again, searching, but this time, for an idea. Searching, like usual. It finally clicked, the solution to searching is finding…Finding Nemo. From the start of the movie, you can constantly see Nemo’s dad, Marlin, searching for Nemo. In the beginning, Marlin and Coral are looking through the anemone to see their children. Then again, after the fish are attacked, Marlin is hopeless and searches through their home only to find Nemo. Again, on Nemo’s first day of school, Marlin searches as he and his son playfully swim in and out of their home. As noted, Finding Nemo doesn’t just apply to the end of the movie, but from the beginning through the end. Marlin knew where Nemo was; he had no doubt. But he was. still. searching. This reminds me of myself, searching for my father and worrying every step of the way, though I knew where he was. Finding Nemo helped Marlin not only unite with his son, but he also found himself in the process, which I can relate to through my dad’s sacrifice for our country.
It’s the dreadful wakeup; I roll over to see yet another day where the sun is shining enough to bake everything in its reach. My entire dorm room is nearly yellow from the tint of the rays, demanding that I get up and take on the day. I make sure that each fan in my room is on full capacity, and grab a chilled water from the fridge. As I get dressed, I keep in mind the outfit that will keep me coolest, and once again, I resort to shorts and running shoes. As I leave the building, my vision goes white and the sun makes its presence clear. I begin to feel my regret in wearing a shirt with sleeves, as it feels like every inch of skin that is covered is on its way to a boil. To make it worse, in the distance, I can see the dreaded hill before the Commons. It’s almost like walking up a sandhill in the Sahara, and my mind wanders to my favorite time of year, autumn, quickly approaching. I think of the smell of the sweet pumpkin pie that quickly fills the house, and somehow, makes it a little warmer. I crave the crisp air with the wind blowing the crunchy and colorful leaves through the air. I think of the football games, where everyone is bundled up with double or triple layers of clothing. I miss how nature seemingly paints everything in colors of orange, yellow, and red. I think of the milky hot chocolate with fluffed white marshmallows swimming at the top. I get excited just thinking of seeing all the colorful pumpkins carved in creative or simple ways. I love the crackling roar of a campfire, and the crunch of a fresh-roasted s’more. I love the sweet aroma of cinnamon that seems to be found everywhere, especially in crafting stores. I love the comforting print of flannel that seems to be the official uniform of autumn. I anticipate sliding on my coziest wool socks, and cuddling up with a blanket by the fireplace. My mind seems to have wandered to a different season and just then, I am brought back to reality with the spray of a sprinkler. I’m not in autumn at all; I’m at the Commons and the heat is blazing. Hurry up autumn.