The Wonders of Life Here: Destiny
Usually on a summer morning, Adella will run and I will walk and the dogs will wait for us because going back and forth in straight lines means nothing to them. One day last week, though, we changed it up and all four of us walked together on the beach. We were all up early, there was a breeze, and time was ours. Off we went.
Along the way I nodded and said hello to a compulsive trash collector like myself. She raised her head and gave me a blank stare and moved on. Adella made the “Ok….What was that?” face, and I said, “Too much trash on the beach will do that to you.”
The woman dropped her bag of trash into a barrel and turned back in our direction. She picked up some soggy, corrugated cardboard and held it out from her with that, “What am I going to do with this?” gesture. I offered my bag to her so that she could relieve herself of the junk.
She saw my daughter’s tank top and said, “You go to ECU?”
“Not yet,” I said (I still make the mistake of answering for Adella as if she were a preschooler.). “She went there for band camp.”
“How much did you love it?” the lady smiled. “Think you’ll go there?”
Adella has never felt compelled to please the crowd. “I don’t know,” she said.
“Did you go there?” I asked.
“Yes-and-I-loved-it,” she replied. That’s how ECU people are. They gush about their school. They can’t wait to tell you they loved it. She studied elementary education and she loved it. She retired from teaching and has been cleaning the beach every morning for the past 16 years.
ECU people commit to stuff. They care about being a part of things. They are loyal to whatever they believe is worth doing, and they do it.
Back at band camp, I sat next to a woman who was an alum who married her college sweetheart, who was also an alum. They loved ECU so much, they settled in Greenville, where there is nothing but vegetables and single-wides with TV antennae (yes, antennae; the memo has not gotten to Greenville yet, and they are still watching TV with their antennae), gas stations, and a few churches.
At the band camp concert, we heard about a lot of couples who met at ECU and went on to marry and become music teachers together.
The school has something.
Despite my daughter’s not exactly crowd-pleasing response to the ECU questions, the ECU alum who is a retired teacher caught up with us a little later to tell us the current drum major at ECU is from here, Topsail Beach.
North Carolina is an amazing place for stirring in so many people a loyalty to place. I see it and feel it whenever we are here: people care about you, and they’re not about to walk away. It’s an attitude that brings me back to the young man who towed my car to the garage a few weeks ago. Look what’s here.
That an elderly woman who works so hard to protect the integrity of the beach would also go out of her way to connect with my daughter and assure her that ECU is worthwhile because it is connected to people who are here….Well, that’s everything. That’s the loyalty born of passion that makes everything possible. That’s North Carolina telling my daughter it’ll care back if she cares for it. Talk about making things easy.