Monday, July 16, 2007

Smalltown Me

I didn’t start my life in a small town, so I have trouble accepting the terminology used to describe people like myself: hick, redneck, hillbilly, etc. Because I grew up in suburb of Milwaukee, Wis., I exclude myself from these labels, and others like them (but even less flattering).

A four-year relationship with a student of dairy management and arguably lack of direction on my part, led me to the town I currently call home.

There are more cows than people where I live, a circumstance not without its benefits. “Skyscrapers” are considered 60-foot silos, barn and church cupolas and smiley-faced water towers.

I have been living here for two years now, and despite earlier attempts to fight assimilation, I fear it could be imminent. My “city dwelling” best friend and fellow English language and grammar aficionado once caught me saying, “them there.” That was the point when I (as a journalist and creative writing minor in college) felt I truly hit rock bottom.

Since that point, I have been much more mindful of my language – however “when in Rome,” I DO “do as the Romans do.”

City dwellers and rural Americans, despite their different lifestyle preferences, have many similarities – positive and negative. Both have a tremendous capacity for caring, kindness and sense of community; and both have tendencies toward racism, narrow-mindedness, and an unfounded sense of superiority – city dwellers over “hicks,” and rural Americans over “city-idiots” or “Cidiots.” I imagine this kind of dynamic exists between groups and classes of people all over the world, based on a myriad of values/perceived values.

How or if it will ever be resolved is the unanswered question. Maybe I can bridge the gap. But at this point I doubt it.