The open house was packed. I fought my anxious impulse to disappear, reminding myself that now it wasn’t just my responsibility to be a visible, social-activist butterfly… it was my job. I wandered my way to the middle of the mass and into a conversation with two first-years: One from D.C. and one from Northern Kentucky, near my hometown of Cincinnati. The Kentucky student and I chatted briefly about the conservative environment and the contrast Oberlin had to offer.
“Really?” the D.C. student asked. “Cincinnati is conservative?”
I stopped, amazed at the concept of someone reading the ‘Nati as a liberal space.
“Yeah, you wouldn’t think it is…” said Kentucky, “Its a city, but its a more conservative city.”
I was even surprised at this implication that all cities were automatically full of the enlightened. “Its a red city.” I said, hoping to impart the severity I was feeling. “Blood red.”
D.C.’s eyes widened brightly. “Whoa, so you’ve actually met a real republican?”
I was tempted to ask what planet these people were from. I had no idea there were people who didn’t know any conservative people personally, let alone never officially met one. I think its best put in the words of my dad. “In this city, every person you see is likely to be one of them. Every face I see I can’t help thinking “You support everything I’m against… “”
I smiled at the optimistic first year. “Met a republican?” I laughed, “Honey, down there you can’t escape ’em.”
She laughed and I smiled. On the inside, part of me brightened at the idea that there are places out there that are, theoretically, so “liberal” conservatives won’t even show face. The rest of me sunk, once again reminded that the rest of the country has forgotten about us.
x-posted on Amplify