[Context: My husband and I spent our 5 day winter vacation in Vermont. It was absolutely marvelous. I was definitely living my best life in the freezing temperatures and layers and layers of snow. While I was there, I took some time to jot down my thoughts about place, people, and roofs. This post isn’t super organized or neat, but these were some of my more organized thoughts from our winter trip.]
The first night we were here, we went to a grocery store and liquor store to get food and wine for the week. These were normal, ordinary tasks. But the light and place and people were different. And so I somehow felt (and still feel) not quite me. It’s like I need Maryland or Pennsylvania or Geneva College to make me who I am.
I was sitting in the car while Tim was looking for my favorite wine and he left the car on (because it was so cold). Him leaving me in the car (because I forget to bring my ID when I’m not the one driving) isn’t an uncommon thing. But it wasn’t the same this time at all.
I try so hard to look like I fit in everywhere. I’m so afraid the guy in the grocery store will look at me with my jeans and lack of winter boots and know that I…I don’t know…don’t belong? It’s funny that I should worry, though, because I really don’t belong here.
Who really belongs anywhere anyway? I didn’t always belong at Geneva or in Maryland. But I’ve been there long enough that I do (though I’ve lost Geneva again in the same way I gained it). However, I’ve not been in Vermont any amount of time to know the roads, people, and places.
I don’t belong.
I feel my lack of place most acutely in quiet shops where we’re the only ones or at the busy ski resorts. In quiet shops I feel like we’re obviously tourists. In ski resorts, it’s the exact opposite: everyone assumes you know what you’re doing, where you’re going, and how you should do it. But in this situation, unlike in the shops, I want someone to notice me. I want someone to notice I don’t belong and need help.
I guess I just don’t belong here.
We walked into the quiet little gift shop and were greeted by Max, a little dog. A friendly voice from the back said, “I see you’ve met Max, he’s our welcoming committee.” A few moments later a nice wrinkly woman emerged to greet us herself. Then went away again. It was quiet, no “let me know if you need help, I’ll be right over here,” or general salesmanly clinginess.
As an introvert I strongly dislike clingy sales people, but the lack of that actually makes me feel worse. If you push yourself on me, I feel a sort of gotcha satisfaction in not buying anything from you. If you don’t push yourself on me, I feel like I need to buy something–my way of saying “sorry” for disturbing you.
In general, people here seem quieter. When you go places, people leave you alone. It’s both nice and stressful.
The people who do talk, however, are so very nice. The waiter at Mr. Darcy’s, the guy at Java Baba, the woman at the gift shop, the guy in the gondola, the guy in the grocery store. Everyone is so welcoming, and when they inevitably ask if we’ve been skiing and I say “it’s my first time,” they warmly assure me that “skiing is a life-long sport and you’ll love it.”
I hope they’re right.
I pray they’re right.
I would posit that you can tell where a person is from (in general) by having them describe what the roof of their home is like.
In the places I’ve lived in the middle of the East Coast, roofs are shingled–some steep angels, some gradual slopes–generally chosen for aesthetic appeal.
In Vermont (and probably much of the North East) roofs tend to be metal and very steep. Based on the three feet of snow around me, I’d guess that it has something to do with the amount of snow they get. I would assume that 2-3 feet of snow could get quite heavy. That much weight on your roof could prove, well, disastrous.
I love how your place changes what your home looks like. I love that where I live, the way it looks, is different and would be strange to someone who’s not from my place. Even though I only live a 6 hour drive away from Vermont, there is a marked difference in the appearance of our homes.
It helps me feel less boring. It’s almost like, just by where I live, I matter. I have a unique story, life, and experience to someone from somewhere else.
Praise Jesus, I matter.