January 15, 2013

Town to City

I like to hide. But this is because I don't like attention. Certain kinds of attention, not unlike other people I suppose, freak me out.

Last weekend I travelled to a place I've never been and met people I never thought I would, all for the possibility of work. I'd rather not give much away, since the whole thing, whether I'm being offered the job or not, is still up in the air. I'll say this, though. The town was small, smaller than what I'm used to lately. I have my fair share of years growing up in the boonies, where your closest companions are trees and occasionally wandering animals, but the last several years I've gotten used to concrete and steel, streets and neighborhoods, places where trees are planted every twenty yards in squares of dirt in sidewalks and animals are on leashes. Now, granted, where I went isn't the boonies per se. It's more like a small rodeo town in the middle of nowhere, where long roads connect places over vast land.

I remember thinking to myself immediately while getting off the highway and entering the town, "I don't know if I can do this." It's hard to say for sure what caused my initial fright, but I got ahold of myself and was soon enveloped in my stay. I met some great people, ate Mexican food, where my host knew half the people we saw, introduced myself several times, was asked loads of interesting and surprising questions and delved into fun and constructive conversations. I enjoyed my stay in this small town, and tried to imagine living there for a time.

After eating pizza and conversing for a bit at lunch, I soon realized time had flown by. It was time to say good-bye, possibly not for good. I gathered my things, gave hugs, shook hands, placed my bags in my car and soon left. I had done it. I had done what I set out to do, and with triumph.

On my way back I had a brilliant idea to see a friend who lived three hours from where I was. It was on the way. But the place she situated herself was of significant difference to where I was coming from. After driving alongside slushy snow alongside icy water, my lonely road transformed into a busy concentration of red and white lights, mimicking my veins and blood cells. I felt a rush of excitement and opportunity. I was in the city.

The building was lit, as I could tell from the open windows, as I drove up the parking lot. An Episcopal church is where I was meeting my friend, it's where she goes. Immediately, I thought, "No, no no no, this isn't right." I knew this was the place, but the "Episcopal" I read on the illuminated sign out front didn't correspond to what I was hearing. It was the lyrics and melody of the pop worship song "Give Me Faith." This was surely no typical Episcopal service, if it was one at all. It wasn't, come to find out. My friend's church community only meets there. I walked in and was slammed by this feeling. Shoot, what was it?

I stood at the back of this beautiful sanctuary, the long A-frame kind. Wood, pews, city-dwellers my age. Ah wow! I took a deep breath. The last song was sung and I looked for my friend during the meet-someone-new time. Surprised, I spotted her in the wake of shifting bodies and seemingly-shifty pews. We hugged and she introduced me to her friend. At last, I made it.

This community felt good and right, healthy and real. The preacher got up. He had glasses and wore and blazer. I was seated too far back to make out his facial features. I found myself shallowed up in an exposition of a passage in Hosea of all places. Gosh, I hadn't heard anything from Hosea in years, when a pastor preached in our college chapel reenacting Hosea's life in first person narrative. This word would be almost as memorable as that one.

Later I ate the dinner saved under foil for me. After service and dinner I stood in a hallway and talked poetry with the guy my friend introduced me to. They had worked together. He was thoroughly Portland. Long hair under faded beanie, scruff, scarf and painted nails. He's studying music I think. After, we drove him home and got milkshakes. This trip from small town to big city has highlighted something about myself I hadn't really known before. I like the city. Now, this isn't to say I don't like small towns or the one I came from, only that there is something about a city that, for me, is alluring, something beyond all the interesting people, shops, fashions, flash and ideas. Not like in a small town, in a city I can escape. Dreams of "Making It Big" drawn all kinds of people to cities. Money. Fame. Status. For me, I'd go there to hide.