17 May 2006

I thought about my last post, and decided that maybe I'm wrong. The little community we moved to did welcome us. A family with three young kids moving to town was the most exciting that happened to Medora, ND in 1987. My family is very well respected in the area. My parents made friends outside the National Park community (an ever-changing subset of liberal, environmental, transplants in an otherwise static, one-cow town) and went to all the local brandings, ropings, and rodeos. We stayed for the parties afterwards, even though we never brought the right kind of beer.

I decided I couldn't have a wedding there because I would have to invite several hundred extra people (most couples simply post an invitation to the community in the post-office). Hundreds of people who would all show-up because they love me, even if I am marrying an Easterner.

We wouldn't have been treated like outsiders if we hadn't considered ourselves outsiders. The North Dakota move was suppose to have been temporary: just a few years. We almost moved to Big Bend, TX and later to Golden Spike, UT (I guess my parents were hell-bent on living in small, conservative towns) but inertia took over and here we are, almost 20 years later. Maybe we thought we were better than the people in that town, with bigger plans, brighter dreams. I always did. I never planned on sticking around, even when I was 10 and in love with the one of the best showdeo steer riders in the state.

In the end I think my parents simply didn't find people they really connected with. People with the same interests and opinions. Becoming locals meant sacrificing too much of who they were and what they believed in.

I never gave up on the idea that I had bigger things in store than that little town. One of the most mortifying experiences of my life was getting caught, two years out of high school, waitressing the graveyard shift at Perkins. My high school classmates came home from college over spring break. There I was - in an oversized, hunter green shirt - serving hashbrowns and eggs over-easy to their drunk asses at 3:30 in the morning. I told them that I was going to Cornell University in the fall (explaining that it's a college in upstate NY), but it probably seemed like idle talk to them.

I've lived the rest of my life since then trying to prove to everyone from back home that I'm better than that.

Better than what, exactly? I'm not sure anymore.