Unintended Consequences

Sunday was the three-month anniversary of my move from Columbus, Ohio, to Flint, Mich. Three short months, and yet I feel as though I’ve been here forever. Perhaps that’s a side effect of moving from one state to another to begin a job immediately.

Of course, one glance around my apartment lets any visitor know that I have been here exactly long enough to unpack three plates, one coffee mug, two bowls, a cake pan and some vintage Pyrex, a pot, a strainer, and a few utensils.

And the only truly warm winter jacket I own, a bright red number with an enormous Ohio State logo on the back, a gift from friends a decade ago.

One unintended consequence of my move was my exposure to a whole new gene pool of germs. When a teacher starts at a new school, it’s not uncommon for his or her immune system to take up to a year to adjust to the new spectrum of available assailants. Being the victim of what my doctor in Columbus and I used to call my wiggy thyroid, it’s not uncommon for me to experience the same immunity issues by crossing the street.

My punishment for crossing state lines, however, was a five-week, mid-semester battle with The Great Ick. This coincided with a seasonal cold spell, which necessitated the donning of the warmest coat I own.

My colleagues’ reaction to this coat was swift, dramatic, loud – in short, delightful. By wearing this jacket that is now Scarlet and Tan (the Gray faded long ago), I have managed to outrage Wolverines, Spartans, a few scattered Fighting Irish and one loyal Bronco.

Today, my vice-president for academic affairs – the woman second-highest in the chain of command here at Mott Community College – called me a traitor on my way into the monthly faculty meeting.

I have to wear this jacket all winter long.

I rarely wore this coat in Columbus, in part because I so rebelled against being identified as a Buckeye. Even though I spent time in grad school at OSU, I never bought into Columbus’ community identity that is essentially a cult of Buckeye football. But now that I’m in Michigan – a state where I sought employment, to which I moved willingly, in which I recently voted – I’m suddenly a Buckeye.

It reminds me of when the USCHO staff pegged me a “westerner” because I cover the CCHA. When I first met my colleagues from out east, they all treated me as though I couldn’t spell “Atlantic,” all because I was then landlocked in Ohio – me, the woman who still refers to herself as a New Yorker 19 years after leaving her beloved home state.

One of my Mott colleagues posted “Paula Weston is the biggest Michigan fan” signs around my office door the day she saw the coat, complete with a big “M” logo. I laughed and told her she should talk to some of my readers, who would completely back her up on this, citing dates and quoting lines. I don’t think she saw the Red Berenson bobblehead on my desk.

I’m heading to Columbus for Thanksgiving and Friday night I’ll see my first game of the season at the Schott, the rink that was my winter weekend haunt from Jan. 2, 1999 until this past February – which was exactly when I applied for the job I somehow landed at MCC. Ironically, I won’t be wearing my OSU jacket.

And after I see Ohio State play Nebraska-Omaha Friday night, I will have seen all but two CCHA teams play this season. The Divorce Anniversary Tour of the CCHA continues – another unintended consequence of this transplant.