August 22, 2006

And To My Right

When I left my home town (Big Flats, you guess the state, no cheating) to go to college, it was the first time in my life that I'd ever been an unknown. Or at least it felt that way. Growing up in a town of 1400 human souls meant that privacy was something of a thought experiment, and rather than reveling in my newfound frosh anonymity, I was downright crabby about it. I didn't like feeling unmoored, and maybe that's why the idea of becoming a student tour guide was so appealing to me. (That, or the fact that some kind student took pity on us when we visited my not-yet-alma-mater on a Saturday afternoon without calling ahead, and gave us a tour out of the goodness of his heart.)

The rule was that you were supposed to be a tour guide only after you'd been on campus for a year; I talked them into letting me do it my second semester. (This was remarkably similar to my campaign to get the local B. Dalton's to give me a job while I was in high school despite their manager's strict policy against hiring high school students. Apparently, the best way to get me to do something is to tell me I'm not allowed to.)

Anyway, I loved it. LOVED it. I had the time of my life being a tour guide, and got really good at walking backwards. Like poetry and singing, it quickly became something that I felt "bitten" by.

Unlike poetry and singing, though, there are not a lot of opportunities for honing one's tour guide skills once you're an adult. Docent was about the closest I could think of, but I think I'm probably too loud for that gig. Plus the name doesn't sound cool. Docent. There's got to be a better word.

Then I found out that the local historical society does walking tours of our town on weekends. But I had just moved here, and felt manifestly unqualified. Especially because I was still driving down to Philaldelphia every weekend, spiritual foot-dragger that I am. And then there was that whole parenthood thing.

Well, my friends, this past weekend I finally took myself over to the historical society and signed up to join a walking tour. And within about five minutes I was thinking, "I could DO this!" Within half an hour I was thinking about ways I could learn more cool things to add to the spiel. The next day my
extremely cool artist friend K helpfully took this picture to prove that yes, I can still walk backwards! And today I downloaded the volunteer form from the historical society's website.

All of which is to say, I do believe I am finally going to get to scratch that itch again!

(And if you'd like to see
what some other women have to say
about "scratch," head on over to Mama Says Om for some great reading!)


Waya said...

That's great!! You look like a pro in that pix!!

juliloquy said...

Big Flats sounds like Nebraska to me. Am I right?

Let us know your tour guide schedule--maybe we can drop in some weekend!

jaxter said...

Oh, you have the job hands down - you will be the star and everybody will want you as their tour giude, at least if they have any sense.

Shelley said...

Thanks for the kind and supportive comments, y'all.

And nope, Julie, it's not Nebraska. But you & Schmoo and HPR can for sure come on a tour. Soon as I learn all those dates!

rose colored glasses said...


Shelley said...

Nope, not Montana. Declared a federal disaster area in the early 70's, courtesy of Hurricane Agnes... any more guesses?