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Davis, California

Sunday, September 26, 2021

Column: Home sweet home

So mashed potatoes were eaten, wine was drunk, turkeys were stuffed and, come to think of it, so were the people that ate them. Yes, another Thanksgiving has come and gone. And thus, the Christmas season has officially begun.

I started seeing candy canes lining store shelves in October, but I never feel that special Christmas-y vibe until after we devour that giant bird. The holiday means a break from school, hopefully a break from work and quality time in your hometown with your family and friends. Not to mention all those other people you never wanted to see again. Let me explain.

I come from the small town of Lodi, California. Maybe you’ve heard of it. Most likely you haven’t. One of the cool little perks of coming from such a tight-knit community like Lodi is that I get to play a game of hide-and-seek every time I come home. Sounds fun right? One would think.

But hide and seek kind of loses its charm when you’re the one hiding all the time, and getting chased once you’re found. This is the best comparison I have for coming home to a small town. And after using it, I am realizing what a scarring game hide-and-seek is for little children.

Anyway, coming home to Lodi is like a three-week game of hide-and-seek. That’s a lot of hiding. And I don’t even think I know enough places to hole up in for that long. Basically, being at home means having to contemplate every step I take before I make it.

If I plan on going to Target, I must mentally prepare myself for running into my 12th grade English teacher, my best friend from pre-school and probably some form of a second or third cousin. I must also be ready to say hi to about 50 people who seem to know me even though I have no clue who the hell they are.

Like every hometown, there is also that favorite sandwich spot that everyone seems to flock to when they’re back. In Lodi, the holy grail of sandwich shops is called The Butchershoppe (Lodians are notorious for their creative naming abilities. And sometimes they feel classier if they tack an “e” to the end of things).

I’m going to feel super lame if this is not a universal thing … but I’m pretty sure every community has such a place that for some reason or another becomes a hot spot. The Butchershoppe is ours.

I have never felt the need to dress up for a sandwich. But oddly enough, The Butchershoppe seems to inspire people to. This is probably because walking into this joint means walking into a high school reunion. Actually, it means walking into a lot of high school reunions. For someone who generally disliked high school to begin with, this sounds horrible. And trust me, it is. But those sandwiches are pretty freaking good. So in I go.

Who would have guessed that a sandwich was worth smiling and waving at a room full of people I don’t want to acknowledge? Well, I’ll admit it. They’re delicious. But you can even make this task easier on yourself if you bring along people you actually want to see. Which in turn, probably increases the number of people in the deli that someone else doesn’t want to see. It’s a vicious cycle.

The crème de la crème of awkward places back home to run into people you dislike, however, is probably the bars. If you thought these people were annoying sober, try hanging around them when they’re drunk. Or rather, try to avoid hanging around them when they’re drunk. It’s always depressing to run into those cheerleaders from high school that now have babies or those hot guys that now have beer guts and drinking problems. I guess Creedence Clearwater Revival wrote a song called “Stuck In Lodi” for a reason.

Despite what this column indicates, I’m actually super excited to go home for Christmas break. The people worth seeing overshadow those that aren’t. Plus, I’ve gotten pretty dang good at avoiding certain people and situations. I also won’t have to live off quesadillas for like three weeks.

AMANDA HARDWICK needs a million dollars. If you have some spare cash, e-mail her at aghardwick@ucdavis.edu.

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