Tuesday, September 13, 2005
WHEN I WAS
younger, I had two different family reunions to attend. One was my grandmother's side of the family, and the other my grandfather's side. I went to a few more from grandpa's side, but I really remember grandma's side as a more enjoyable experience.
Grandma's family was dirt poor, but they knew how to throw a party. EVERYONE was having a good time, all the time. Kids ran around like woodland creatures as parents found their way to the drink and food. It was, in a word, perfect.
Grandpa's family had a bit of money. They weren't wealthy: they had just enough money to put on airs. I remember everyone seemed to want to have a good time, and had paid for a good time, and planned and organized, but no one ever seemed to figure out HOW to get it done.
At Grandma's reunion we sang songs. At Grandpa's we sand hymnals. Burger's and brats from grandma, steak and potatoes from grandpa. A large abandoned field verses a manicured campsite. A hayride or a speedboat.
There was love at both, to be sure, but it always seemed tempered at grandpa's. Everyone had to show just the perfect amount of restraint at all times. "You are a cute kid, gufaaw" was the sort of attitude. Grandma's family never gufaawed, they snorted.
I remember all this as I walk back from visiting my old university. I quit as a grad student, and a grad assistant, and did so mid semester. I left behind a lot of people who tried to help me, and a lot of people who wanted it advertised that they tried to help me. I ran in to both types on my visit back.
Walking back into that building was a lot like going to Grandpa's reunions. Everyone had a bit of love in their eyes, but the conversation was all centered around the wrong things. I had to talk to my old advisor, she gave me a look that said I had to. It was not great, to say the least. It was uncomfortable and awkward. She asked all the questions you would expect her to ask, about what I am doing now, and expressed a bit of worry (as if quitting university was quitting life). But the underlying feeling was still there: the reason I quit was still there. I just didn't like these people, and didn't want them thinking they would be helping me by trying to make me into them. It sounds horribly trite, but I mean every word. I really didn't want to be some I love everything and everyone writer type who secretly hated everything and everyone. I want to be able to hate and love what I hate and love, dammit!
While I was sitting there, I ran into more of the same professors, each one stopping to inquire about me, each one smiling and hugging me, and each one going back to the office to either forget about me or gossip about me.
I really wish I would have ran into Dr. Morgan or been able to talk to Rose. I REALLY would have liked to see Nancy Michaels, she was always true to me.
I am sure I will be back in the lion's den sometimes soon, a good friend works up there now, but I really hope next time I can sneak in and out. The reflection of who I was and who they thought I was in their eyes was hard to take.