Recently, I was talking with a friend who was asking how I pronounced something. She has been hanging out with some folks from Michigan. I told that while she may think my mid-western accent is still strong, it has had time to adapt. I have been back and forth between home and the east coast for nine years. It was one of those revelations that makes you reflect on your life, where it is and where it has been.
I am in a graduate program where I am at least four years older than the majority of my cohort. It makes me feel old sometimes. It makes me feel like I have seen many more snapshots of the world than they have. It makes me think about how nomadic I have been in the 9 years since I first left the shores of Lake Superior.
My friend and I also discussed fast-food employees that day. She was surprised to learn that my first job had been at Hardee's. She has been working retail all through college and graduate school, in addition to a research assistantship. But I am amused when people who meet me through professional settings are shocked to learn some of the jobs I had over the years. A person has to earn a living, you have to humble yourself to the mighty dollar. So inevitably you take jobs that sacrifice some dignity, that is, people will treat as though you are less than they are. There is a contempt and rudeness people show for fast-food employees and other minimum wage jobs that you don't get if you are percieved as being educated or on your way to middle class status. Even in my last retail job I was able to retain the feeling of being a person with dignity that I often did not get while I worked fast-food. Of course, my boss at the last job treated most of the customers with a bit of contempt to it was easier to realize I didn't need to take shit from people.
That was a bit of a side-bar to what I really started out to say. I recently was in a store where a song was playing it sounded sorta country, but I really don't pay much attention to popular music, so god knows what it was. But the jist of it was that you could always go home; there is always a place for you at home. How I wish that were true. After college I tried. I wanted to go home. I have family obligations that would be so much easier to keep an eye on if I were close by. Life didn't work out that way. I can't live in my hometown. It's leathal for me. I tried to move to a larger city in my home state, but that didn't work either. And now I am on the east coast too far away from my family. I am happy here; I think I could have a good life here.
I was listening to music while at work today (I have a professional type job these days, but sometimes you have to work on the weekend anyway) and I heard "Girl, from the North Country" by my main man Bob Dylan. And it was hard to realize that that won't be me. I always identified with it in a way, but I am not her. In this version of an odessy, I am a nomad in pants taking a road that I don't know where it will lead me. I am alone, lost, and feeling awkward.