Today there was a post on my Instagram account (if anyone wants it, please just let me know) from one of my friends who is hiking the Appalachian Trail. Very cool. The AT goes very near where I grew up in Connecticut. A lovely little town in the NW region…a very little town.
It got me reminiscing. I honestly have way too much time on my hands these days, because when I get in one of these moods, I can really get on the track of things. First I went on Google. That came up with some pretty typical stuff: the town page and all. I wasn’t too surprised to find that one of my Ex’s was listed as a prominent figure on the list of ‘important’ figures in the town. The town sexton actually. I had to look that one up: a sexton. In this case, they may be referring to taking care of the town?
I had contacted him a number of years ago as part of a healing process. We were married very many years ago (and divorced). He was very glad to hear from me (thank goodness), which isn’t totally surprising as he was really a very nice man. He still lives in this beautiful town in the family home. Cool.
After the Google search, I decided to dive further and went to YouTube. This was where I hit gold. There was a video of the town, apparently one of many (all the others to be found in the town library), that actually was a bit of a historical and present day visit to it. The best part was that it had actual footage of my Ex!! There he was making maple syrup, just like his Dad did many, many years ago.
It kind of hit me (this is where it gets pathetic I suppose), how life goes. I remember going out on freezing nights and checking the temperature of the sap to make sure it didn’t burn. And I think to now: what an amazing gift to still be participating. It’s just the kind of life I envision–we had envisioned long ago. What happened?
I look back on so much of my life and wonder about it. How a part of me must have known that some of the people I picked were right, but then I couldn’t see far enough to stick with it. What was it in me that didn’t have the ability to stay?
And now I’m simply so jumbled about it all to even want to step into it all again. It all felt so much simpler when I was young. Looking at someone and thinking you could be with them. But when I was actually there–I always seemed to see something else.
Now I don’t know what I see these days.
It’s so easy to get lost in these fields of that little town; in the hope and the green and sounds of the stream. Is it all just something from long ago? Or will I someday walk again in a place and feel something is right?
Walking I had yet another moment of realization today. It was after another confrontational day at work. I ponder these moments and really wonder about them. But then I thought back to my last job in New England and realized that there were co-workers there that were difficult too, and that’s when I realized the difference. And it’s not just a difference at work, but in the people in general.
Back home, as I still tend to call it (and feel it is I suppose), the folks are often what one think as the stereotypical New Englanders–keeping their emotions and their lives mostly to themselves. It takes them a long time to get to know someone and trust them (and some never do), but once they do, you’re golden.
They can be a pretty silent people, and you as an outsider, which I always considered myself (even though I lived for 20 years in one NE state and 30 in another)– I was really from NY. And they never forget that either!
You may live in a house for years, but they don’t consider it yours until you move, then they refer to it as the old so and so house. Many are the salt of the earth, but are reserved in offering. In some ways, you must earn your place in the community, it’s not automatic.
And when they do choose to speak, they usually have something to say–it may not be much, and they won’t care if you agree, but they’ll hold to their principles and beliefs come hell or high water. Pretty much nothing will change their minds, not even reason sometimes. They just stand firm! But real New Englanders will do it over a beer or two (maybe more), and are used to letting others do their own thing. They’ll just think they are wrong.
If they are angry, they will stew and not talk to someone. Or maybe have some beers and have a fight. Get it over with and be done.
Then I came here to the south…not the polite south either. Initially I was shocked by the rudeness of people! Gosh, you couldn’t sit at a light for one second without someone honking their horn!
And at work too, of course I’ve mentioned the craziness. I attributed it to being the surgery department, but today I realized that this may not totally be it! It may be just living in this area and the personalities of the folks down here and how they are used to acting.
They are much more brazen: if they are angry, they snap and say it! It can shock you because you might not even realize what you did to them. And they get angry at the smallest things too. People are loud and have big personalities. I notice this in grocery stores too. It’s quite amusing actually.
I’m guessing the difference is because of a few things: there are more people for one. So everyone is vying for space and air time. You have to be loud I suppose they must think–but please not at work!! The grocery stores have loud music too. And there are cultural differences too, where in NE, everything is very homogeneous.
It is probably just more stressful living here? Although NE is cold and dreary so much of the time–wouldn’t you think that is stressful? But maybe that toughens them and makes them quiet and inward. There’s a lot more money here too, so maybe folks are entitled in some ways. And they are from all parts of the country, trying to blend with each other. Does it work? Well, sometimes, when everyone is yelling, talking over each other, beeping their horns and misunderstanding one another…. um, no–not all the time.
All places have their advantages. But I as of yet have not found the place I resonate with sadly. I am a mix of both these places in a way. I am outgoing in some ways and like a mix of people, loving the cultural stew. Yet, my quiet NE home was so peaceful and beautiful too–and the people there, while challenging could be the most endearing friends.
So where will I find my next home? How to find a combination of both–how to get a sense of community without the harsh edge of, well, stressed-outness that I find here? That close-knit days of old where neighbors helped one another and cared with a beautiful backdrop?
With the latest shooting, I don’t know where to begin to deal with my emotions. I was at work sitting at my computer where I usually am when I’m not on the ambulance or working around the station when I saw the news. Like everyone, I was horrified, hit by depths of sadness and overwhelmed by a sense of disbelief. Why? That is what we are all asking–on a seemingly daily basis. Why, does this keep happening?
And people of my generation keep saying and feeling that it didn’t seem to happen as much when I was younger. But I’m not here to talk about the why’s. We could argue that until we are blue in the face: too many guns, not enough gun control, too much internet or lack of control on the internet, poor health care system for mentally ill people. Whatever it may be, all I know is that it is happening and innocents are being slaughtered at an alarming rate.
I looked at the photos that were shot on the scene. And just like when I heard the news all I could do was cry. The faces of the people show the pain and senselessness of it all. Then I think five seconds beyond the initial horror to the job I would have to do if I was responding to that scene and I just am not sure I want to be part of the human race any longer. I see that, too, in the faces of the fire fighters and EMT’s/paramedics and police. My fear are the pictures that are conjured in the minds of the family members, the co-workers, the play-mates, the community members and anyone involved. Sadly these images will last a life time. And the holidays forever a reminder.
Do these shooters have any clue when they do these things and the long-range reverberations that are caused? They are so often killed themselves in the event, so we can’t get in their minds. Do they only think in the moment that they act? Our questions will echo in our heads and hearts just like the bullets that sounded in that school today. But unlike the bullets which only cause death and endings, questions help us to heal and create changes.
So how do we deal? How do we find solace in something so inexplicable? How do we go on and find joy when others suffer so greatly? Some have their religion. Some their families. Some never do. Yet some take a monstrous event like this and create a way to help others out of it. I can only hope these families find some way to find their joy and peace again someday. And that maybe somehow we come to learn the ‘whys’ of these events so we can eliminate them. Until then, I try desperately to hold on to that strand of hope I have in humankind–that somewhere in us kindness remains. Please let me be right!