Everyone knows the infamous Snapple motto– “Made from the best stuff on Earth.” And for much of my adolescence, I contemplated A. what said stuff was, and B. where said stuff could be found. Well, avid readers, I may not know the answer to A, but I most certainly have limited the possibile answers to B.
After spending a weekend at the University of Notre Dame engaging in intellectual discourse surrounding cinematic tropes, audio-visual aesthetics, and impassioned analyses of the modern day soap opera, I am certain Snapple is not manufactured in Indiana.
I try not to be a stereotypical New Yorker who believes anything between New York and the West Coast is just Starbucks-less wasteland, but experiences such as the one I had this weekend only reinforce my notion that Indiana could never be a home for me.
Aside from the overindulgence in religious iconography around the Catholic campus, (Did I mention 60% of students go to Mass each Sunday?) I was particularly cognizant of another reality– one in which there was literally nothing to do except drink Irish beer and, as one student phrased it, “try not to commit suicide by boredom.”
While Notre Dame is a well-respected school, with students producing quality academic work, its location overrides the value of its intellectual accomplishments. South Bend, Indiana is one of the most depressed cities on Earth, and I say that having visited a Palestinian village with 70% unemployment. South Bend makes Gaza look like Disneyland.
While discussing with one presenter, a native of South Bend herself, her life experiences thus far, I was informed that she had never left the state of Indiana. Stunned and perplexed, I asked why she had chosen to live such an insular life. Her response: “Not everyone is from New York, Yaffa.”
Could there really be people who had no desire to travel? To see the world’s greatest treasures and starkest landscapes? To soak in the delights of hip-expanding cuisines? And to climb the highest metaphorical– and perhaps, for those athletically inclined–physical mountains?
After four years in the comforts of the liberal arts ivory tower, I had forgotten that not everyone is driven by a desire to be the next Hillary Clinton or Madeleine Albright. Some people are content being Suzy Homemaker. And as a morning text message informing me of a friend’s engagement reminded me, in reality the Hillary Clintons are the rare exceptions.
So here’s to being an exception; to beating to a different drum; and to taking the plunge and trying the Starbucks trenta! L’Chaim!