As I pulled onto the highway this morning on my way to the studio, traffic was much heavier than normal because today, you see, is the official start of Penn State’s move-in weekend.  No more than 3 minutes into my drive, Peter Gabriel’s ‘Solisbury Hill’ came on the radio and I was instantly transported back 19 years to when my mom and I left our mini-metropolis of Cranberry to drive up I-79 and across I-80 for my first day as a Penn State freshman.  My emotions were running high that day and I remember listening to that song, over and over, hearing the lyrics “Hey, he said, grab your things I’ve come to take you home.”  While I was excited to be coming to Penn State where I would be rooming with one of my best friends and taking on the challenge of an engineering program, I also had a feeling of wanting to escape.  I truly wanted my mom to turn the car around and ‘take me home’.  I do believe I cried for a significant portion of that 3 hour drive and upon leaving me that evening, I’m quite certain my mom thought I’d quickly drop out and be back home within a few weeks.  But she sent me enough care packages and I had enough campus visits from my parents that I hung in there.  I did experience a great deal of homesickness that semester and for many years after, but as I’ve written before, it wasn’t long before Penn State…University Park…State College…became my home.

The past 9 1/2 months have been utterly painful for those of us living in State College.  We have all gone through such extreme ranges of emotion – – sadness, anger, despair, bitterness, hurt, anxiety, disbelief, denial, heartache…  But  I feel that we have a renewed sense of strength and commitment for keeping our community solid and I have never been more proud of the family that I’ve developed in this town.  So while I will avoid any and all shopping/grocery stores like the plague for the next three days, I am glad to have the energy of the student population back.  Their spirit and pride is at the very core of our community, so this year I will not be rolling my eyes at the traffic, I will not get annoyed at the clogged checkout lines and I will not lose my patience when students cross College Ave. without checking for cars.  I will take it all in stride because the rest of the village is back to help pick up the pieces and rebuild our foundation…

Solisbury Hill…a picture-less blog post…

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