When Columbia Smiles

I lived in Columbia, SC for three and a half years and worked remotely out of the offices of the University of South Carolina for five years after that. And though in May the grant I worked on ended and my ties were officially cut to this city, it's still a part of me. More because of the people then the place. But also because of the culture, which is warm and welcoming and still feels a lot like coming home. I have spent more of my adult life here (ie in the South) than in the place where I was born. I cannot say whether it has helped to form the person I am, but certainly the people I have met along the way have done so. And whenever I connect again to those people, I am reminded of how lucky I am to have the chance to live my life in different cities and states and to meet people who are amazing who I might otherwise not have met.

One of the most noteworthy things about coming back to the South, especially to Columbia, is that people smile. For no reason at all. Strangers on the street. People riding in cars. People in restaurants. They smile even if they don't know you. Speak to you even though you're not a part of their world. And generally spread good will and cheer with nothing more than a turning up of the corners of the mouth. I notice it every time I visit. And I really appreciate this outward sign of connection - in an age where we are so in tune to our own lives & problems, worlds apart from each other, reaching out more electronically than in person. So when Columbia smiles, I smile back. And welcome it.

Below are some images of the Five Points area - a hip part of the downtown not far from the University. A hang out for the college kids, for working professionals, and a great place for little shops and eateries. I took my camera for a walk and just captured some of the more interesting things I saw. And despite the gray of the day, it was definitely worth it.

I lived in that tower my first year of grad school as a health and wellness RA.

this is my friend Rebecca's daughter Hanna and the cat Pumpkin. I am staying with them in Columbia.


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