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the everyman memoirs

The official blog of author Tali Nay.

On The Road Again

It's been over twenty years since, as a high schooler, I set foot on the campus where I would eventually attend college. I was attending a summer honors program that accepted 25 high-schoolers across the country and gave them the chance to get some early college credits. I still think of this small farming town fondly, and last week I got the chance to visit. The college has since expanded into a full-fledged university, and the way this little town has grown and flourished was exciting to see. Of course, the sentimental side of me always pines for the way things used to be, and sometimes change in any form, even positive change, can seem, well, kind of sad. The dorm I lived in, for example, has been torn down and replaced by a parking lot. The pie shop where I celebrated my 19th birthday has closed. The green hillsides are covered with new apartments and condos, distracting from the purity of the view.

This visit was part of a 5-state road trip that seemed appealing after so many months of staying at home. With my co-pilot handling navigation, music, and snacks, we set out to see some different slices of earth as a way to remind ourselves of just how much there is outside of our own small corner of the world. The ultimate prize was a brief 24 hours spent in the company of some of my family, but the majority of the trip was driving, and in some ways, it's simply amazing how varied the terrain gets within just a few hours of the places where we live. Mountains, desert, and ridiculously hot weather. Each night spent somewhere new, each morning a different granola bar or piece of fruit handed over from a front-desk hotel worker. There's something peaceful about being on the road, being temporarily attached to nowhere, and despite the exhaustion of several days of driving, the less than stellar hotel beds and pillows, and the digestive distress that comes from eating foods you wouldn't normally be eating (just me?), arriving back home has felt, for lack of a better term, somewhat boring. I suppose that's the power of the open road, of not knowing what exactly you'll find just beyond that next mountain.


Back on Campus

I was traveling last week for work, and the majority of the time was spent recruiting. I don't normally recruit, but once or twice a year the company sends me to the universities where I attended college and graduate school. Recruiting itself is a bit unsettling, mostly because it feels almost like playing God. Being the one making the decisions (sometimes on the spot) that will so significantly alter the lives of these kids is more responsibility than I'm comfortable with, not to mention no matter how many openings you have, you still have to turn oodles of wonderfully capable kids away. But I still look forward to these trips and for the chance they give me to return to my old stomping grounds and remember the experiences I had on campus years ago. An added highlight now that Schooled has been published is to remember the events included in the book. For instance, I walked by the dorm where I lived and harbored multiple cats, poked my head inside one of the restrooms I used to clean during my 4:00 AM custodial shift, and ate at the cafeteria from which I used to steal cookies.

Though this has nothing to do with my actual purpose in being there, my favorite thing to do while on campus is to get inside a few of the English classes. Seeing as how I was in their shoes a decade ago and have now somewhat surprisingly ended up with a budding business career, I like to get in front of English students and make sure they realize that business is an option for them, and one in which they can make a big difference. I had contacted my favorite professor (he's in the book) beforehand, and he had me speak to a handful of his classes. What a great experience it was to speak to these students, not just as an author, but as an established professional, even though when in their shoes I hadn't had any idea what I would do with my life. "Tali Nay!" the professor said as he initiated a round of applause after my remarks. "Success in LIFE!" he bellowed. And I know that I'm just me, that I've done nothing grand, and that my little book is hardly (read: is not) a money-maker, but hearing him say that has led me to hope that these students can indeed took to me as someone who has been successful in life. And to all the students I met last week, I wish to say this: You are lovely, talented, and poised to make it in this world, even if you have no idea yet how you'll do that. And also, if you see a cat, you should take him in. It will make a great chapter in a book someday.