Last week I posted about the community I grew up in. Strangely enough, yesterday I had a chat with my 15-year-old cousin who’s dying to get out of Louisiana. I was offended, but I did understand where she was coming from.
When you’re young and reasonably intelligent, the people around you seem hopelessly stupid and backwards. Well, that’s how it was for me. It wasn’t that I felt superior to my fellow south Louisianans, but that I didn’t fit in. I wasn’t interested in getting drunk for the sake of getting drunk. I hated Mardi Gras (mostly because I was in band and marching 8 miles wasn’t fun). And I had no interest in getting married and settling down, which is what most of my peers seemed to want to do. I wanted more. I wanted to see the world, experience life, get away from the small town mentality I’d grown up surrounded by.
Fifteen years later, I can’t believe I was so stupid. There’s a wealth of experiences to be had right here. There are people with accents so thick they sound ignorant who can talk circles around me about physics and economics and world politics. But when you’re younger, you don’t see any of that. You only see the way outsiders see your world.
I did attempt to explain this to my cousin, but as we all know most teenagers won’t listen to good advice. I sure as hell didn’t. I was hard-headed and knew everything. Well, the knowing everything hasn’t changed, but I’ve amended that to be “I do know everything, just not all at once.”
I’m proud of my heritage. It took me a long time to get to this place, though. I fought it. I shouldn’t be hard on the kid. She’ll learn the hard way that home is carved on your psyche forever. It molds you. It’s in the way you talk, the way you view the world. I wouldn’t give it up for anything.
What about you guys? Did you go through the ‘can’t-wait-to-blow-this-popcicle-joint’ phase? Did you change your mind?