Nothing Gold

Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay. -Robert Frost

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Location: Arlington, Virginia, United States

I am a white American middle class suburban housewife trying desperately to tell herself that that is not who she is. One time I was a glowing young ruffian. Oh my God it was a million years ago.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

On a crappy small town

So Levi and I went to visit our relatives in Washington State this last week. It was so wonderful to see them all and we wish that we could live closer - just not too close. The day after we arrived in Seattle, we were driving from Southcenter up to Kirkland (yes, the costco brand is named after it) and I felt like I was home. Everything was so beautiful and the people were just so friendly and the drivers (too many of them, I admit) were so courteous. It really made me want to move back. Then, the next day, we went over the mountains to Yakima. Almost as soon as we entered the palm springs of washington, I felt like I was being suffocated. Do all small towns emit this vibe, or is it just the ones like Yakima? The ones where payday loan centers outnumber bookstores at least 10 to 1, where they finally make the national news because of a jailbreak, where half the population is hispanic and there are still bars where one will get kicked out for speaking spanish, where having the national anthem sung in spanish at the fairgrounds on the 4th of July creates a big stink, where everyone seems to be sickeningly conservative and will vote down anything that will help the city, including schools, if it might cost them any money. I have dear, dear friends who choose to live there in that hellhole. What makes them stay? Do they love their families more than I love mine? How can being so near to so many loved ones, who I have missed so much, cause so many negative feelings for me? Whatever happened to nostalgia for a simpler way of life? The suffocating feelings hit me a lot stronger than they usually do. Perhaps it was because Schuyler was not with me and I was staying with his parents. Even visiting my family was somewhat hard without Schuyler. I guess it made me feel like less of a grownup, like I was still subject to their rule, the way I was in high school. So maybe it wasn't Yakima, maybe it was my state of mind and my negative high school experiences or some combination thereof. Also, technically my in-laws do not live in Yakima. They live in Selah, the "safe" suburb of Yakima which is not any better. It is basically Yakima with less hispanic and native american heritage and more jacked-up pickup trucks.


Blogger Schuyler said...

I think it's a little of both. Someone without a history with Yakima probably won't get quite the same feeling you do when you are there. But I think they will agree that, objectively, the town sucks.

And on that note, I'll quote The Strokes, from their song Last Nite: "Well, I've been in town for just about fifteen minutes now
And Baby, I feel so down
And I don't know why"

That's Yakima for me.

6:01 PM  
Blogger aBhantiarna Solas said...

Oh ... that's what it's like when you've lived in a city for a while and then go back to a small town ... any small town. I get that way when I go back home too. It makes me nuts, so I try to avoid it, which is probably not healthy either. It was really depressing to go to my 25th high school reunion and there were only 2 of us that came from outside of New England, and only about 7 came from outside of Vermont. It was almost claustrophobic. Well ... I empathize with you.

10:29 PM  
Blogger Rebecca said...

I feel the same way about Centerburg, OH. It's beautiful and quant but it's stuck and irritatingly the same. Every year the "cream of the crop" that graduate from high school leave and never return minus the rare one that wants to be a 'big fish in little pond' (happens about every 10 years). Anybody that did anything with their lives is no longer there pretty much. Dead and dying towns in general are very depressing to be in. Western PA, NY, and OH are loaded with them.

5:44 AM  
Blogger kate said...

Hee! Before I read Becky's post, I was all set to say, "But when you DO go back, you're such a rock star!" Not that that's any consolation.
I have all the same feelings here (idiocy, feeling of suffocation, things aren't as they should be), but for different reasons.
There's good and bad everywhere. The day I think the D.C.-area folks have all their crap together and are superior in any way, take me out and shoot me.
(Though, I want to make clear, I know exactly what you're talking about. And I relate. I'm just being contrary.)

11:57 AM  

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