Lynchburg is a really nice place to live. The scenery is pretty, the air and water are pretty clean, the traffic is not too bad, the economy is good, and housing is cheap. The shopping is kinda sad, but it is getting better -- we are getting an Old Navy in October, and there is always the internet.
But Lynchburg has a dark secret. A Faustian bargain that each resident must learn to accept. Like pagans of old who each year sacrificed a virgin to the volcano, the citizens of Lynchburg pay an annual price for our relative prosperity.
College students. (dun dun DUN!)
Every August the influx begins. They come in waves, first some upperclassmen that are in dorm leadership teams, then the freshmen, who clog the aisles and check-out lines at target and Wal-mart with parents buying hundreds of dollars of stuff that they not only don't need but won't have room for, and then the regular students in droves.
There are actually five or six colleges in the area, but one overshadows them all in sheer numbers and proximity to major shopping areas. This school tends to attract a specific kind of student -- think The Purpose Driven Life crossed with a J-crew catalog, with a bit of Point-of-Grace style perk thrown in for fun.
I had my first encounter of the fall tonight at Target, two girls chatting in an aisle, tragically hip with their chunky highlights and tortoise-shall glasses, hip-hugger jeans perched on wafer-like bodies, discussing their respective leadership teams and the upcoming school year. It evoked the unique blend of emotions that only a true townie can experience -- a touch of nostalgia, a drop of jealousy, and the overwhelming realization that I had better do my grocery shopping now, because next week it will be too late.