Dreamer's World May 19 2016 - What Makes Me Different?
I often wonder why I am where I am at this point in my life. I wish that I could clearly remember each key decision that I made without realizing it at the time that led me to this point. I am not upset at all with my life, on the contrary, I am very happy with things as they are. Like everyone else, I have had my share of good and bad times as the years have passed, but that is a part of life that we all go through.
I was looking at the facebook page for my high school class from 1982 and I started reading through some of the comments and checking out some of the profiles on there. I was astounded at how differently my life has turned out when compared to those of most of my classmates.
When I left my hometown to go to college, it felt like a divorce in so many ways. I do not dislike where I grew up but I also knew that my future was somewhere else. My parents taught me to go and explore the world when I was able to do so.
The town where I grew up is no different from hundreds of others. It is a small town where things naturally pass very slowly and the same families always remain in positions of power and influence through heredity and passing down of important positions to their children. Those who I grew up with who had parents who were doctors and lawyers have returned to the town as doctors and lawyers themselves to perpetuate the family businesses. Their children will do the same thing when they mature.
My parents had moved to the town many years ago based on my Dad's position with the railroad. This meant that I was part of the town because I was born there, but I wasn't really "part of the town" in the important sense. While I cannot remember any instances of being told, in so many words, to "know my place", the subliminal understanding was always there. It is the understanding that unless you can point out generations of your family buried in the local cemetary, that you remain an outsider in so many ways.
I went to college and graduated. I joined the Navy in order to further my education and to see the great world that we live in. After my Navy time, I settled around Washington, DC and am still here with my partner. That last sentence really sets me apart from so many of the people I grew up with. They cling to the values that perpetuate the lives that they lead and in a way I respect them for that. However, the world is a big and diverse place and the small town feels that it is being left behind. In a way it really is because it refuses to progress. It is a catch-22 in the sense that the small town doesn't want the outside world intruding on it while at the same time the small town resents the fact that their own behavior is what is causing them to be left behind.
I didn't realize I was gay until years after I left that small town. I know that I would have figured things out eventually, but I believe that it would have led to a miserable life had I stayed there.
As I said, I left because I was taught that there was a big world just over the horizon, and that standing there wondering what it was like was pointless. That is why I left there and never went back.
I wonder if writing is something that separates me from the people still living in my hometown? I have always loved to write and express myself. I don't mean that the people still in my hometown and illiterate or unsophisticated, but I have not seen many posts by them that really spark my interests. There are plenty of "Prayers" type of posts, but I outgrew religion years ago. I notice that most of the posts that deal with the outside world can be neatly categorized into the daily Fox News bubble. That makes me sad because as I mentioned, it only serves to further isolate them from the outside world.
As for the rest, I note that the interests are neatly aligned. Small towns have a way of enforcing conformity without appearing to do so.
I do maintain contact with a few close friends. They have often said that they appreciate my insights coming from a different perspective, and I appreciate them for their friendship and their support.
My life since then has shaped my perceptions about the world, and about my hometown. I am happy with my life today, I would not be where I am without the experiences of growing up when and where I did.