The Parthenon

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An outsider’s glance of Huntington

Sadie Helmick | Life! Editor

Sadie Helmick | Life! Editor


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In the last month I have driven a total of 2,477 miles from Seattle, Washington with my final destination being New York City. My good friend Franklin Norton lives here in Huntington, so I decided to make it one of my stops.

I left Kentucky reluctantly this morning (I fell in love with the Bluegrass State) and crossed the bridge to West Virginia with a picture of small town America you see in movies in my mind’s eye. I wasn’t really sure what to expect, but college towns are generally quaint, quirky and bursting with school pride. Earlier this week I was in Bloomington, Indiana, which is a tiny town with a giant school. There’s this street right by the Indiana University campus that is dotted with restaurants, each filled with college students and locals gathering to enjoy March Madness over some fries. So, I guess I was expecting that.

Truthfully, my first thought was: Where are all the darling front porches? As I looked at the houses, I had to maneuver around a pothole but landed in an even bigger one. My faith in Franklin sunk a little, because I know he loves Huntington so much; I was confused. But then I caught a glimpse of a cherry blossom tree, and my heart melted.

After driving around for a few minutes, I parked my car at Heritage Station and got a cup of coffee at River and Rail Bakery. While I sat in the corner, I fell in love with the people. In Seattle, I get strange looks if I try to start a conversation with the cashier. Here it was almost expected. I loved it. I had the door held open for me three times in half an hour and was called ma’am once.

In all the places I’ve been since leaving the West Coast, this is the first place strangers have openly addressed me. Say what you will about big cities, but people walk around surrounded by thousands of people and probably truly connect with no one. There is something wonderful about having a stranger look you in the eyes and say “Good morning.” But in Huntington, it doesn’t feel like anyone is a stranger. I parked my car with its Minnesota license plates and expected to feel out of place. Instead I felt welcomed and accepted simply for walking through a door. Upon entering the city limits, my expectations of the city were wrong, and I was a bit rattled at first. But a place that can make someone feel as if they belong there in a matter of minutes is more than alright in my book.

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