Can you spot the difference?

Column by Hallie BeardOpinion Editor

Last weekend, I made a quick trip to Louisville, Kentucky with my roommate.

We thought checking out the nightlife downtown –where many University of Louisville students roam – would be an exciting change of pace from our usual hangouts in Murray.

Upon recommendation from a friend, we decided on a sports bar called the Granville Inn. A hot spot for college students and a guarantee for cheap food and drinks, we likened the pub to Mr. J’s  Grill & Pub in Murray.

Like Mr. J’s, it was a perfectly fine place to chat and eat – the young bartenders were friendly enough, it was as clean as a sports bar can be and the music was tolerable. Nothing was out of the ordinary.

As more and more people came in, we spotted all the usual college stereotypes: the sorority sisters, the sports fanatics, the trivia-obsessed, the non-traditionals. It was funny to us that the people coming in seemed so customary; if transplanted to a small town four hours southwest, they could have been walking into The Big Apple.

Something strange happened as the night progressed, however. As students trickled into the bar, we began to spot doppelgangers of fellow Racers. Our eyes would light up at someone coming through the door, and we’d almost recognize them as a friend – but as quickly as we saw some flash of familiarity in their faces, we’d remember we weren’t in Murray, and it would have been unlikely to see Murray State students there.

This unsettling phenomenon didn’t just happen once; it became a joke between us, and we’d even catch ourselves falsely recognizing the same person over and over.

I’m a homebody, but I’ll be the first to complain about monotony in my activities. Sometimes the idea of driving the same stretch of road to Five Points or ordering pollo loco from Los Portales one more time is enough to make me scream.

In spite of the humdrum of our daily lives, though, we missed those spots in our four-year home. By the end of the night, after seeing one too many carbon copies of a fraternity brother down a pitcher of Bud Light or a hipster chick mention Coachella, we were saying to each other, “Where’s Mr. J’s when you need it?”

It wasn’t as if the atmosphere was foreign to us, but something was off – being there was like trying to spot the difference between two images of the same scene, knowing only a few small changes lay in the colorful print. Something about the nameless, yet familiar, faces told us this crowd was not ours, this wasn’t our school and we simply didn’t belong, in the most non-menacing way possible.

When a group of rambunctious students started to chant “C-A-R-D-S,” my roommate and I found ourselves wanting to chant “R-A-C-E-R-S,” as if it would garner the same cheers and hollers from the crowd. But we knew it wouldn’t – we were far from our blue and gold stomping grounds and surprisingly aware of it.

So, to seniors on the verge of graduation with cabin fever or underclassmen itching for a change of scene: hold tight. I know, it seems like we see the same boring buildings and faces every day. But take a few minutes to appreciate everything here we have the pleasure of getting tired of: the businesses, the traffic, the rain, even the construction.

There’s something comforting about our surroundings here, and there’s a sense of community even with students you’ve never spoken to.

Maybe it takes distance or absence to see it sometimes, but we’ve got a great thing going on in this place. Go Racers.