Life moves so quickly. Students are always running to the next class or meeting, stressing over that next test or paper. We are guided through life on an escalator packed with people, and continually going up. We cannot turn around, we cannot go back, we can only move with it.
Every day we have rare opportunities to step off the escalator; to take a break on the next floor. This is the moment we take a breath, relax, talk with friends, gather our thoughts. This time often comes when we do the one thing we all must do: eat.
It is the meals in our lives that ground us and remind us of the joy in the little things. Meals are spent with friends, teammates, professors, or even alone. They provide us the opportunity to stop and think, decipher what has happened so far in the day and what will happen as the day progresses. Unfortunately, in the hustle and bustle of the real world, some meals are spent in the library staring at a laptop, mindlessly consuming a burrito and still stressing about that paper due at midnight. But everyone will agree that nothing compares to genuinely relaxing and enjoying a nice hot meal.
For students, many of these meals are spent on campus in the dining halls. We frequent these halls, quickly becoming familiar with the faces behind the counters. Small interactions take place, jokes made, thanks are given. These quick interactions provide us with a sense of reality, a reminder that we are all here on this earth, merely trying to survive. As relationships build, and familiar faces become friendly faces, our connections to these places go beyond their physical purposes of fulfilling an appetite and subsequently fill our soul.
That is what food in the South is all about. When many hear the term ‘soul-food’ you think biscuits, gravy, collard greens, fried chicken. While this is all good and true; it is the soul we find in all food that brings us joy. The smile on the students faces as they are served their favorite tacos, the laughter among the staff as they prepare for dinner. Food brings us together, and in a world where we are all jam-packed on this elevator, food brings us that next stop of relief and clarity.
So much hard work goes unnoticed on a daily basis to make The College of Charleston, it is easy to float through our day and forget about the men and women that make it such a special place. So the next time you are in the dining hall just take some time to say thank you, relax, and take a step off the escalator.