Familiar faces greet return to county

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 3, 2003

I left for college in South Carolina in September 2000, and since then, I've noticed something: When I come home, I don't recognize a lot of the people who seem to know me. I don't think this should feel like anything new, though. When I was in high school, I dated a guy who once said to me, "Every time we go out, we see a hundred people who know you."

Unfortunately, I probably didn't know most of those people.

I'm almost 22-years-old, and for 19 of those years, my legal address has been Red Level. I spent my middle school years and one semester of high school in Michigan, where my father is originally from. For part of my high school career, I attended the Alabama School of Mathematics and Science, which is a public boarding school in Mobile. Currently, I'm down seven semesters of college.

My point is that I'm in and out of the area a lot. Sometimes, I'm here for a weekend and months will go by before I appear again.

Until the beginning of February, I'll be in town, interning here at the newspaper. I've been home for a little over a week now, and I can think of at least seven people who have known my name on sight but I didn't have a clue as to who they were.

I blame it on my mother. A few days after I was born, she started working at Shaw, which was then called Amoco. She worked there until I was around 11. Eleven years is a long time when it comes to learning which parent a kid belongs to. Since she retired, I've had countless people tell me they know my mother and that I certainly grew up quickly.

I like it, actually. It's nice to know that my parents made impacts that have lasted for years.

But at the same time, I feel bad about not recognizing some people who know me.

I don't like to think that the people I talk to don't know who I am. There doesn't seem to be a way to sneakily get someone's name. I don't want to bluntly ask for it.

"Hey, I don't remember you. What's your name and how do you know me?"

No way.

Sometimes, I'll try to engage the person in a longer conversation, hoping a hint of their identity and relationship to me will be dropped. A grandchild's name, a church function, a story I wrote for the newspaper when I was in high school. Anything.

Most of the time, though, that tactic doesn't work, and I end up simply smiling, nodding, and promising to give their best to my parents.

If I don't know who you are, I'll do my best to make certain you never know.