Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Minds and Prejudice

TODAY it has been one month since I left Madrid and even typing that out it still doesn't seem like that should be correct.  Time stops here in Kendall, Wisconsin.  It's like the minute you cross the state border line you move into this twilight zone where nothing changes and the days blur together so much so that you can't remember if you've been here for a few hours or 30 years.

That being said, being back home has been pretty nice so far.  I spent my first week in California visiting Kelsey, and Erin came out too, so we had a nice little sister's vacation.  I definitely felt the pangs of culture shock jumping so quickly from Madrid to the hustle-bustle lifestyle of Los Angeles.  The tall buildings, the need to drive everywhere, and the overall immensity of the city itself had me feeling overwhelmed and suffocated.  I just wanted everything to be slower, easier, smaller.  We spent 2 days in San Francisco, which was beautiful, but I only wished that I wasn't suffering from USA shell shock so that I could have maybe enjoyed it a little bit more.  The highlight was definitely being in town the weekend after the Supreme Court repealed Prop 8 and said bye-bye to DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) and we sat on the San Fran courthouse steps as couple after couple went inside to celebrate their love and get married.

After getting back to Wisconsin, there was absolutely no need to wish for slower, easier, or smaller. I definitely knew I wasn't in L.A. or Madrid anymore while I was waiting for my baggage at the Madison airport and a group of people started to form around a girl about my age who had a cat on a leash.  There were 'Ohhhs' 'Aaahhs' 'How'd it get so small!?!' and one old man even dug out his digital camera so he could get a video.  Then of course they all started a conversation and became best friends after.  And that, folks, is how you know you've arrived to the Midwest.  You can also tell by the never-ending green rolling hills and corn fields and trees surrounding you on all sides.  And the humidity.

I've always loved the view out our kitchen window
Drake enjoying the tranquility of his country life

Being away from home always makes me feel more appreciative of the things I have taken for granted, like how absolutely beautiful it is here in the summertime, or how calm small town life is (and it's not so bad for a short period of time), or how happy and free I feel when I'm reunited with my best friends, or how much I enjoy hanging out with my parents and sister.

But I've also realized that small town mentalities are something that I have the hardest time readjusting to.  I have been so lucky in my short lifetime to have been exposed to lots of different kinds of people from many different places and to have seen all that I have.  I don't think this makes me better than anyone or smarter, but it's clear after just a few conversations I've been involved in with people now that I've been back home that my mind is much more open.  My biggest struggle is knowing when it's appropriate to just keep my thoughts to myself or when it's better to say "No, this is wrong, and here are some things I've experienced that can show you why.." For the most part I say nothing because I recognize when a conversation can be a discussion and when it turns into pounding your head against a brick wall.  In the end it just solidifies my desire to see even more and to live a life free of prejudice and judgment.