Oh, small town America.
The town my parents live in is adorable. My grandmother lives right down the street, as does my great aunt. I grew up near uncles and aunts and cousins, and a lot of them have stayed in the area as we’ve all grown up. I know a couple people my age in town, so although life slows down here it never quite stops. Main street looks like an old Western movie, and there is one coffee shop and no stop lights.
This time I noticed that things were different, or at the very least, that I was different. The things that characterized small town America for me now felt constricting and kind of concerning. Politics, football and religion still rule the day. Conservatives yell the loudest, and have the biggest guns.
Oh, and literally everyone has guns.
My first day back a friend took me down to the ‘big city’ for lunch. We stopped in at a local outdoor shop and I was greeted with all that makes this place ‘special’- deer, elk and moose heads mounted on the walls, country music on the radio, and the entire length of the building devoted to their gun section.
Merp. I’m a recreational gun person in that I enjoy the challenge of target practice, but when my friend took the clip out of his own handgun and deposited it all in his car’s glove compartment while we ate lunch I was a bit done. Then we went to another gun shop, which was located above a bar. What the heck, America?
Anyways. I had deliciously strong beers for lunch, and macaroni and cheese with crab mixed in. Lemme tell you- if that’s ever on a menu you come across, eat it. Worth it. So good. Hanging out with someone I knew was also really nice and helped me get out of my own head.
Coming back to a small town after a year and a half away and looking like an abuse victim is also not the greatest. I know I’m more concious about my face and how I look and what happened, but I don’t like it. My bruises have healed, as has the massive cut down my cheek, but it still sucks. Underscoring all this change is the monologue running through my head, ‘it could have been worse.’
Of course it could have been worse. I could have been attacked by someone I knew and trusted. I could have had acid thrown in my face like those women in India. He could have had a knife, or a gun. I could have been sexually assaulted. All these scenarios make me feel so much worse, because these situations exist. They are real. People suck, I am vulnerable because I am a woman, and all around the world someone is getting hurt worse than I did.
And that knowledge sucks. I want to feel safe and others should feel safe. No one should have to walk through the world feeling like they don’t belong in it, like someone is going to take advantage of them for being who they are and where they are. Without getting too far down the rabbit hole, I want to be ok. And I’m still working on being ok, and getting everything sorted out.
Opening a bank account. Getting a credit card, like an adult. Fixing my computer, which resurrects itself like Jesus every third day. Keeping connected with friends, whom I miss. Planning visits. Waiting to hear about my job. Working. Writing. Watching it rain, melting all the nice snow. Cuddling my dog, hearing my cat snore. Being overwhelmed. Researching an article about defending yourself with a backpack on. Where to publish it. Blogging (obviously). Drinking coffee, catching up on popular culture, most of which is crap. Seeing family, meeting new babies. Jet lag is finally mostly gone.
Blarg. Living and adjusting and processing.
(PS I totally wrote this ages ago and now I’m all living in a different state (same state of mind) and all sorts of things have happened so I’ll get on that here when I feel like it/am not busy walking to work which now takes up a small but significant fraction of my day. Toodles!)
PPS- here are some small town pictures from my time back at home. Enjoy, even if you don’t know what’s happening.