So you know when you have a favorite food that you just don’t eat for a really long time because you had eaten so much of it you just couldn’t stomach it any more and then finally 6+ months later you try it again and it’s right back at the top of ‘best foods in the world?’ Well that’s how I feel about Vermont. It’s kind of funny actually because when I left I swore up and down that I wasn’t going to miss Vermont, I wasn’t going to miss the cheese or the maple syrup or the soft-serve ice cream and I certainly wasn’t going to miss the snow. Now a year and a half later I find myself missing exactly all those things, especially now that I am in San Diego.
I keep looking outside expecting the trees to be changing color (they did in Kentucky) but they don’t here. They didn’t in Louisiana either, and I clearly remember on February 20th (my 22nd birthday,) sitting out on the steps in front of the ghetto ass house I was living in, in just a t-shirt and shorts and swearing it was the hottest I have ever been in my life. Little did I know that it was going to get a LOT hotter REALLY fast as Hurricane Season tends to do. As I work my way across the US and the rest of the world I find myself comparing what I am currently experiencing to the home I grew up in and I have come to a couple of conclusions:
1. Vermont is a lovely state albeit somewhat sheltered from many of the things the rest of the country has to deal with, which makes it seem like sort of a paradise sometimes. For example the amount of crime you deal with in different cities.
2. Okay so maybe just one massive conclusion.
What can I say, growing up in Vermont keeps you sheltered from a lot of the world. In Vermont I never really experienced wide spread Racism, Homophobia, Religious Persecution or Massive shootings (while I didn’t experience them first hand New Orleans has Mass Shootings about once every couple of weeks.) Sure every state has a fair amount of Political Corruption (here’s looking at you Louisiana) and economic issues but Vermont had(has?) NOTHING compared to the rest of the country. Even now I am sitting here at my desk currently unemployed, although I should be, and wondering how hard could it possibly be to get a job in a city that has 1.32 million people. Oh wait… That’s right. 1.32 million people compared to Vermont’s population 626,011. That is 2.10 times MORE people than Vermont in just ONE city. I would say that it’s claustrophobic but west coast cities are much different from east cost cities and instead of growing up they grow out.
So how does someone cope with all of these changes and vast gaps in cultural understanding? I personally just accept that things are happening and instead of fighting them, I learn from them. I wasn’t always like this though, this Christmas will be my second Christmas away from home and on my first Christmas? I fought, I cried, I screamed, I almost bought a plane ticket home and said screw traveling. That was back in Kentucky. I used to see the way people had adapted to their cities and question why some people just couldn’t get their shit together (New Orleans is a prime example of this.) Then I stopped getting angry and upset and started listening. I would sit down with the locals with a cup of tea or a beer and I would shut up and listen to all that they had to say. The stories that came out of simply listening changed my perspective on many many things including acceptance.
One story sticks out to me the most, just watching him talk about surviving Katrina was haunting to me. His eyes zoned out, as if he could see through the wall of the dark, musty, bar and simply saw himself surviving something no 16-year-old knows how to cope with. He gave me a sheepish smile as he admitted that the only reason he coped the first three nights is because he was stoned, I couldn’t blame him though as he had been stuck up in a small crawl space with a box of cereal and one gallon of water, listening to the gun shots echoing off the rooftops. That is a terror I will never know and my heart went out to him, he was still tortured by it.
As I read this blog over to make sure everything sounds the way it should I realize that I have no idea how I am going to wrap this post up. I still deal with homesickness, I am still learning so much about the differences in the world, I am still here listening and I don’t see that changing any time soon.