Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Vignette 3: Friends Will Be Friends


As I sat in the Pizza Hut, a little boy peeked over the booth.  I smiled and he reported to his mother, "I can see her, mama."  I didn't look at the parents' faces.  There was a chance I'd gone to school with one or both of them.  In fact, that could be said about many of my fellow diners.  But if so, I didn't recognize them.  Possibly because I didn't want to recognize them.
Not Glenwood people - I didn't have any good photos for this post

Glenwood doesn't seem like the kind of place people move to - although, of course, my family did.  People stay, though, held in place by the inertia of ties, a good school district (I can't fault it for that), and a setting that, overall, is safe.

I wrote about my mom and her peeps before, but not at length.  Most of them are Glenwood legacies: those people whose families have lived in Midwestern small towns since the dawn of time.  My mom ended up in their mix because she was a band parent: another common trait of the ladies who lunch.  This meant that I also knew many of them from when I was a young, flute-wielding band nerd.  And - in turn - that means I knew their children.  I didn't feel like I knew Baby Chicken Wing (this was her nickname back then, so I'm resurrecting it for blogging purposes) very well when we were both in band.  She was a freshman, her cousin and I were seniors, and we were all rivals (if you've never been a high school flutist, you can't imagine the intensity this entails.  When I call us rivals, I mean it in the truest sense of the word).  

But thanks to our Moms and their weekly lunch dates, I've come to understand - just barely - how incredibly fucking cool she is.  My penultimate night home we met up for dinner and talked for 2 hours straight.  Some people think that you are really comfortable with a person when you can just sit quietly together without feeling like you have to make conversation.  While that's nice, and may be true for some people, I find that the people I'm most comfortable with are the ones to whom I can talk non-stop.  We talked down memory lane, our shared people, experiences, and things we never knew.  Although I teach art and she is a graphic designer, neither of us realized we were both artists in high school; our relationship was defined by our rivalry, and our high school art teacher, while entertaining, didn't do a lot of teaching.  And that's a shame, because after chatting for two hours, she had to go, and I found myself wishing we could do the same thing the next week.
Among other things, we talked about Glenwood people.  It was surprising to me that we both felt pretty much the same way about bumping into many of our classmates - acknowledge, if you must, but really, evacuate the premises as quickly as possible.  Small town life breeds a certain mentality, and nowhere has this been so apparent to me as with this current election...ugh, I guess I finally have to say it - with our new president.  The photo above was taken by a member of my graduating class and his wife, who went to DC for what he called a "historic day."  It wasn't the Women's March.  The thing that I found most striking (and that I have - for the most part - obliterated, since I don't have rights to the original photo) is how very privileged they look.  Not just white, but upper-middle class, shiny in the early-morning sun.  See, my problem with Trump supporters (besides the fact that they voted for a guy who can check every -Ism box and be compared to the scariest things...), is that they already have what they need.  They can get married.  Become educated.  Get medical care.  They are safe - whether or not they choose to believe it.  America is already pretty damn great for them.

For many other people in my home nation, those things are not a given.  Now I'm not saying that Obama was a perfect president, but for the last 8 years, he led America with class.  My viewers at home may not realize this (although they should, since they do it to the "others" in their community), but living overseas means being associated with your home, and as an American the president is a big part of that.  Because of president Obama, people couldn't automatically assume I was one of a horde of ignorant, greedy bigots.

Those days are gone.


Now that I'm back in Mongolia, my job hunt continues.  At this point, I'm losing hope that it will end with a job in Japan, so I've started to consider other things, such as whether or not I'd have things to write about, what curriculum I'd be teaching, and how much it would cost to visit Japan on the holidays (I'm mostly joking about that one...I don't really want to have to fly to Tokyo, then take a train up the coast, and THEN take a ferry to Tashirojima, the island of feral cats.  But if I have to...)  As I'm looking at other possibilities, I've found that when I see a start date of July 24 I think to myself, "That doesn't give me much time for vacation."  I don't actually have a big trip planned - the next jump is my big trip of the summer, although I might visit Montreal with my favorite Chingu if she's still up for it - but I think that's okay.  There are things I want to accomplish while I'm home.  I'm applying to start a master's degree over the summer.  I'd like to go back to Rainbow Artistic Glass, where Babysis took me a long time ago, and learn how to cut and join stained glass.  And I'd like to explore Omaha's art scene with my former rival.  Omaha's Benson neighborhood has a First-Friday art event every month, and it's been a long time since I got to talk about art with a friend who gets it.

I just hope that organizations like this will still have the funding to operate by then.  

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