The Idahoan in North Carolina

This week, we analyzed a graphic novel called The Arrival by Shaun Tan. When I first opened it up and saw all of the sepia-toned pictures, the strange looking creatures, and no words, I was not looking forward to reading it.

“But wait, Liv! How do you read something that has no words?”

Good question.

I was not looking forward to viewing it. (I don’t even know if that’s any better.)

Either way, I would like to admit just how wrong I was to judge The Arrival off of a simple first glance. There is so much depth and storytelling involved in this beautiful tale Tan has spun. Moreover, I discovered I could even relate to some of it. Although moving from Idaho to North Carolina was not quite as drastic of a change as the one that Tan’s protagonist faces, I still had my fair share of things to get used to. For example:

1. The humidity. In Idaho, we have what we like to call “dry heat.” The best way to explain this is to imagine a blow dryer in your face 24/7. Here, the air is wet.

2. The food. Prior to North Carolina, I had never had grits, southern sweat tea, livermush, or a strange concoction of Bisquick, sausage, and cheese called sausage balls. (Some I still wish I had never had.) I also never knew just how many foods could be dipped in batter and fried.

3. The bugs. I will never forget one of my first nights on campus during my Freshman year when my roommate and I decided to take an evening walk. We were going along, minding our own business as we casually passed a tree… which then started making the strangest noise and rustling all about, and I’m telling you, this tree was alive! I screamed, and that, my friends, was the first time I learned about cicadas. (Don’t even get me started on the first time I saw a firefly… when his light went out, I asked if his butt had broken.)

4. The language. Everybody says y’all, and they’re all “fixin'” to go do something. I learned the difference between “He’s visiting his grandma, bless his heart,” and “Would you look at her haircut? Bless her heart!” It appears the unspoken rule of the South is you can say just about anything about anyone, as long as you bless their heart afterwards.

So Shaun Tan, props to you for making an awesome, relatable graphic novel. If you haven’t read/viewed it yet, check it out here.


1 Comment

  1. Among these transitions, I hope you’ve grown accustomed to like grits. I mean, what is there not to like about grits? I love how you’re playing with Tan’s larger theme and considering it in your life; college is a great site to consider transitions.

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