ACU campus is a dead, lonely place to be on Saturday afternoons. With the wind howling around me and the smell of dirt in the air, I can walk from end to end on campus without seeing a soul after the usual Friday afternoon exodus.
I used to imagine college as a scene displayed in a prospective student brochure, where Frisbees were constantly in flight, troubadours picked at their guitars, and everyone ate only picnic lunches on lush green lawns. Yet most weekends at ACU, that herd of stray black cats living underneath the Gibson Center appear to be the only available company.
Because I have no desire to become a cat lady and my real home is an eight-hour drive away, I’m selfishly proposing a new pro-Abilene attitude to you, my fellow ACU students. If we can come to love and appreciate the hidden gems of this West Texas landscape, we will have less of a reason to leave on weekends and more incentive to make my “brochure” visions come true.
Gem #1: the food. Abilene has quite a lot to offer if you’re willing to look for it. Drive down any street, and you will certainly come across some type of international flavor. Local restaurants such as Joe’s Pasta Pizza & Subs, Mary’s Paleteria and Ann’s Thai Kitchen offer friendly service, along with delicious and varied cultural menus.
Gem #2: the shopping. This place is swarming with antique shops. Try out Rust and Roses on S. 1st St., which gets most of its merchandise shipped over from Europe. The store is a renovated automotive repair shop and cuter than a baby angel with wings.
Gem #3: the campus. Stop and consider all of the wide-open space within the boundaries of Ambler Avenue, Judge Ely Boulevard, East North 16th Street and Campus Court. Unappealing at first glance, all that brown grass is far from useless. Think of the Frisbee games, the water balloon fights, the concerts (and dare I suggest picnics?) that could take place on this vast expanse.
Perhaps my plan to populate the campus on weekends will fail, but for now, ACU will remain my home. The main incentive to stay in Abilene on the weekends lies not in the gems of West Texas but in a place where we form close relationships and grow in knowledge and wisdom. And for that, I am willing to spend my weekends with a bunch of stray cats in a windstorm – join if you dare.