Sunday, December 27, 2009

...And you thought I was from Detroit...

(Pre-Script: This post will remind you exactly where you came from when read as the song,"32 Flavors," #21 on the playlist, plays in the background. Go down to the playlist, click on that song, then come back and resume reading. I'll wait...) (...still waiting...)
You have heard it said before: "You can take the girl out of her clothes, but you can't take the clothes out of the girl." Or no, you probably have not heard that before, seeing as I just made that up.
I met a lady at church today. She told me that she and her family came here from Washington D.C.. Folks, when that woman told me she was from Washington D.C., I believed her. Granted, she's lived here for the past 9 years, but when she told me she was from Washington D.C., I believed her. She seemed, Oh how do I put this? She seemed Downright Political. I'm not sure if it was the conservative bob, or the confidence in her tone when she said, "We're all a part of the same country," and the gleam in her eye when she said it, too, but I believed her. Even her wedding ring looked Washington D.C. to me. Even her quilted brown jacket. Even her sensible shoes. And I won't even tell you about the man sitting next to her whom I assumed to be her husband. (Oh, okay, you twisted my arm hard enough, here's a teaser: He looked Completely Congressional. Don't ask me to describe his physical appearance, because I just did.)
Now folks, this bothered me because I realized something very important. I realized that I have a problem. I have lived in San Jose, California, my entire life. By "My entire life," I actually mean not my actual entire life, just the entire part of which I have a conscious memory. My parents tell me that I was born and spent the first two years of my life in Portland, Oregan, but as I have no working memory of anything Oregonian, they could have filled in the blank with any location, and it still would have remained just a blank space in the canvas of my memory, on which they could have colored any geographical landscape.*
The fact that I have basically lived in one city my entire life (except for the few college years I spent living in the cute town of Saratoga, which is attached to San Jose-: literally attached, as in, you can stand with one foot in San Jose and the other in Saratoga in certain spots-I forgot about that until just now) means that I am not as diverse and cultured as I would like to think that I am. I have been tricked into thinking that I am a vast, diverse, well rounded person because I live in a place where people who actually are vast, diverse, and from everywhere else in the world come to live, and to work, and to enjoy the crazy good weather conditions, overpriced standard of living, and close proximity to the Pacific Ocean and also to the mountains. Don't hate me because this area is beautiful. Hate my parents for that.
Can you imagine how it feels to realise that you are not diverse among all this diversity?? Oh the irony. At least if I had grown up in Nebraska, I would know that I was Midwestern, because everyone around me was also Midwestern, and positively landlocked. Not that you can't get out-just that I am guessing here, and by guessing I mean totally stereotyping but meaning no harm when I say it- that I doubt there is as much cultural diversity in Nebraska as there is in California, if only because California is connected to an Ocean, and Nebraska has no Oceans attached to it, and studies over thousands of years have shown that places attached to Oceans tend to draw people in, if only the people who are in boats looking for a place to land. This is true.
When I was 16, I spent 4 days in Ohio. When I got off of the airplane in Dayton or somesuch city which escapes me now, I instantly believed that I was in Ohio. Even without the signs on the wall reminding me. I think it was all the khaki pants and penny loafers in 1992. I'm not sure. There was definitely an air of "We are by and large a more conservative population than the culture from which the flying bullet from which you just emerged has brought you; we are behind the fashion about 2-5 years, but we are really okay with that. At least, for the next 2-5 years, we are okay with that."
I wonder if I were to move to another part of the country and live there for 9 years, if people would still be able to instantly tell that I came from here. Not the Northern Part of California; too Mountainous and Nature Loving; not the Southern part of California; too Carb-ophobic and Overpriced Vehicle-ish; but the middle part, the busy Silicon Valley part, just an exact mix of the Northern and Southern parts that combines to make it's own diverse combination. Or at least I sure like to believe that it does.
Hi, My name is Michelle, and I live in San Jose. Still.


*(I do have a memory of a visit to the Pediatrician's office when I was a child. When I recounted this memory to my mother, she said "you just described the Dr.'s office you went to in Portland." this could have been any Dr.'s office anywhere in the world, but that's not important here. What's important is that I was not yet 2 when this remembered event took place. I believe that individuals with this young of a memory are classified as either "Brilliant" or "Extremely Gifted;" the exact label alludes me just now; I digress.)

1 comment:

Derek said...

Do people in SoCal still drive onto the shoulder when braking in traffic? You could try that. And then let me know if you feel more diverse.