Just not my town
While eating sausages, sauerkraut, and potluck lovelies at an Oktoberfest party, someone called me out on my lack of love for Sville. It’s true. I don’t want to be here. That’s clear to anyone who’s talked to me in person, visited my facebook, twitter, or this site in the past 5 years. I came here in 2001 as a freshman and thought it would be fine for a few years, and then I did my masters, and then I got engaged and a job all the while thinking oh just one more year.
As the years have passed and this has become the place I have lived the longest, my dislike has matured from the mall is too far away and these grocery store options are terrible to I can’t believe I wasted my twenties here and my god I’m not raising my kids here.
I complained so much about Starkville I made myself sick of it. Though I’m not Catholic, for Lent I gave up verbally loathing this place. I tried for 40 days not to say anything negative about Starkville. Suddenly I had very little to say. I found myself listening more, trying to remember how I used to talk to people. Mostly I became quiet except one particularly bad day where while in tears I expressed my readiness to move. From that day forward, I acquiesced that on really bad days, when something remarkably awful happened, I am allowed to complain, but I am not allowed to dwell because focusing on it all just makes me feel worse. After several weeks of living without constantly complaining, my mind finally became free to think about less depressing topics. I felt lighter and better than I had in years.
Long after the Lenten season, I’ve tried to keep it going. By only bringing it up when it is a natural part of the conversation or on really bad days and even then, I force myself to move on to other topics. I guess I stopped complaining long enough for someone to slip me some perspective.
One of the neat things about Starkville is since it’s so small, once you meet someone, you’re likely to meet them over and over again. At this Oktoberfest party I saw lots of people from my foreign language days, one of whom shared in 1991 she drove past the highway patrol on her way out of town and yelled, “Goodbye, Starkville” knowing she was never coming back. Well, life happened, and she moved back two years later thinking it was just for a couple of years, and she’s been here since.
She didn’t tell me that she learned to love it. She didn’t tell me that she’s glad she’s here. She didn’t try to force any rose colored glasses on me. Instead, she just showed me that sometimes Starkville happens.
I’ve been in a hole these last several years, missing living near family and close friends, missing the beach, missing affordable flights, missing all manners of comforts from the art, cultural, retail, restaurant, and entertainment industries that I can’t find here. More than just stores, I miss a comfortable level diversity of ideas, beliefs, politics, and skin colors. I struggle to exist in this space where my beliefs are nearly universally unpopular if not reviled, where I’m too often the only one who looks like me in a room, where I’ve learned to walk past racial slurs and to continue working in a place I had to file a discrimination complaint to get almost near fair pay.
It’s been a hard time for me, and in all that lament and loneliness, I somehow forgot complaining is actually not conversation. I don’t have to love this place, but for everyone’s sake, I had to find something else to talk about.
Something else to talk about:
Last week I had a work trip, but Ennis and Daniel were able to come along. While I have a large freezer stash, it’s much easier to get him down for and through the night with me there.
I’m so glad they came so I didn’t miss this moment: in the hotel room Ennis for the first time pulled up to standing.
Actually I did miss the very first time. He was playing on the floor and then he caught my attention by making happy noises and I looked over to see him standing up! I promptly picked up my camera and sat him back down and watched him go from his sitting to standing.
I’m not sure who was more pleased: him or us.
The ridges of the A/C unit gave him something to climb up.
But after a week of practice, he can pull up on most anything. Now getting down, that’s a whole other topic.