Upon moving to Columbus, and starting at the university, Leah experienced that strange phenomenon of relocation, in which the new people she was meeting closely resembled those she’d previously known in her old life, in her old town.
Leah was bright and self-conscious, and noticed it right away. It was déjà vu, a ghost note, an inexplicable feeling – but it was there.
Perhaps, she thought, in her anxiety of moving, she was clutching on to what was safe, what was known? Was this a common feeling? She didn’t know. She wished there was someone she felt comfortable discussing it with. She was too afraid of what others would think, how others would react. She worried a lot, Leah did.
But it was there, this phenomenon, in the general impressions, and the physical traits. The feeling a person gave off.
Like the familiarity in the limp first hand-shakes, the first shared words. The bubbly greeting of a bony girl, with pink acne across her back, along the lines of her tank-top. The brooding eyes of a boy across the room of a party. The way another pronounced the word hegemony like it were a cartoon cricket. The flaxen haired field-hockey player, jiggling her calves under her desk. The stocky boy who continued to wear his khaki shorts well into the colder months of Fall. The posture of the curly haired boy in Intro to Philosophy, erect but calm; a fencer’s.
She’d all known them before. Everyone reminded her of someone else, someone from home.
Leah imagined she wasn’t the only one, though she wasn’t entirely sure. Once during a party, she overheard someone talking about a similar feeling they’d had since leaving for school. She fantasized about lining everyone from her dormitory against a wall, and confronting them about their true identities. Had they absorbed the personalities and the traits of her friend’s back home? Was it supernatural? Was it a conspiracy? What was going on? More than anything though, she wanted to feel a part of something shared. She wanted to know that she wasn’t alone.
“Why am I feeling this way?” she wondered aloud, in her dorm room one night, while her roommate was out.
Leah ground her pencil between her teeth. She removed her glasses. She pinched the arch of her nose. She was perplexed, this night, wrought tight with nervous energy. She paced across the Ikea rug covering her floor. She cursed.
“But people aren’t the same everywhere?” she said, at one point.
Further into the semester, everything would shift. The new people she’d met weren’t so similar to those in her past after all – it was the old people who were now reflective of the new. Most of all, she would begin to get distracted, and begin to forget.
And that winter, while cross-legged on her bed, Leah experienced the irrevocable sadness of paling memory – leaning over a book, her chin propped up by her small palms, as the delighted murmur of students drifted up along the side of the building, like ivy, dissipating into the light-less cool of her dorm room.
Postcard: Found at Antiques of Old Wilmington in Wilmington, North Carolina in January 2012.