This is where I live. Some would describe where I live as bucolic. Some would say where I live is quaint and beautiful, with stone walls, beaches and a bounty of open space. Some would say where I live is simply a hub, a bedroom community, a place where taxes are too high; there is no real business unless you count the casino and the taxpayers. The disdain for education runs rampant, change is stagnant-rather, change is nonexistent unless it’s controlled dictated -right or wrong -by whomeever is seated at the table of town government.Anyone who cares about change, improving what matters, or has a vision of what could be, does not last long where I live. Some will say where I live is just a place to come and go, rural, small town like, stuck in the slump of the late 70’s, early 80’s.
Who needs growth anyway? We like it like this, some would say. This is a place where everybody knows everybody, even if they don’t. Charming. Some would say.
You are so lucky, some would say.
I once said there was something, some.thing, between the devil and the bay that borders where I live. That thing festers in this place where I live. It feeds well on apathy. It feeds well on hate.
Where I live has officially become the place I have lived the longest. It’s not my home town. It is not the place I would have ever imagined my life to be, after living many places before I moved here. Where I live now was not my chosen place to be. But life, loving,marriage, motherhood, loss and choosing to stay in the living brings us to places we go and grow. We choose to remain and figure out ways to make good on the bargin of living and creating and giving back.We find ways to make it work. We think about the people, the good, good people we meet where we live and how those people have contributed to the learning.To our lives.To the good. To the not so good. We watch. We become wise. We wait. We let our children grow and find a foundation.We invest in schools. There are dance lessons, soccer, events, new friends, old friends, births, deaths and so many things that become the thread that binds. We choose to make a difference, make change for the better, do what we can along the way.We plunge into cold waters so literacy can flow. We invest in ways to make life have more meaning. We make our own meaning. We stay. One year becomes five, and then ten and then almost twenty. We advocate, we stay in the living, we watch students grow into adults. We stand up for those same students, cry with them, encourage them to be true, to change the world. To get out, if that’s what they want. Or to stay. But don’t get stuck. Don’t get stuck in the same resistence to change you were given. It’s a big world. We choose not to look the other way,we make waves, we speak the truth, we choose to care more, get paid less, ask questions, question the answers, buy, sell, give, take, give more, isolate, engage, age, support,set up roots, dig up roots, be born, and die. We choose to watch not only what the thread binds together, we watch as that thread unravels.
I am not dying where I live. Not here. Where I live now is not my dying place and it has now become the place where I am not truly living. I am not a woman who lives in fear. Where I lived before showed me that. I was mugged once while training for a marathon. I had stopped to tie my shoe and while C+C Music Factory were blasting through the headphones of my yellow Sony Sportsman, I felt someone behind me and then I was grabbed right in the lady parts. I turned around to see this short, baseball cap wearing man. Just standing there. Smiling.
He took off and I took off right behind him.
I caught him, thanks to a timely car door opening. He went down. I held him by the scruff of the neck with the help of the owner of the timely car door until the cops arrived. I don’t live in fear.
Where I live now has become a place where bit by bit the quality of living has been chipped away by those who should be striving to make it better.
People should themselves all.the.time.
People I don’t know want to hurt me, shut me up, take me out with the trash. People I don’t know have threatened my business.People I don’t know came after my daughter. People I don’t know have posted in print that through theater I am promoting child pornography and children are not safe. Spread the word. YOUR CHILDREN ARE NOT SAFE! People I don’t know, know too little about just enough. People I don’t know, know just enough to incite violence. Where I live now has tested the quality of where I call home. It has been a long time coming and my heart can not take it anymore. I have never lived anywhere that broke my heart until I lived here. This place where I live. I watch as people take and and take and take, hurting the most vulnerable and fracturing the quality of community. It has become a sport with hate and ignorance as the fuel for winning. Whatever winning means in a small town.
You liberal CUNT.
SUCK A BAG OF DICKS.
I AM COMING FOR YOU.
YOU THINK YOU GOT EXPENSIVE PUSSY.
GO BACK TO THE CITY.
TAKE OUT THE TRASH!
IMMA HANDLE THIS THE PATRIOTIC WAY.
YOU AND YOUR DAUGHTER ARE THE REASON why…….
the reason why your husband did what he did.
did what he did……
My husband committed suicide 7 years ago.
This was posted by an individual who is listed as an active member of a town board. He also has his own business. He specifically tagged my daughter in his comment. So she would be sure to see it. I don’t know him
YOU POKED THE BEAR.
Granted, I have been called a cunt before.My brother uttered that word. Second oldest in the line.We were gathered in a southeastern North Carolina courtroom where me and my other two brothers( third and fourth in the line) had to prove to a judge my dying mother needed to be protected from said cunt calling brother. Right there in front of the judge and attorneys.
YOU FUCKING CUNT!, he said. She’s a cunt, he said to the judge.
Sticks and stones.
I have also been called the butchers daughter.
I was a sophomore in high school.
The Butchers Daughter: a label given to me by a local Pastor in the town where I lived, who raped his own daughter, got her pregnant and wanted my father to help. My father, who at the time owned a women’s health care clinic providing safe and legal abortions in addition to a wide scope of women’s health care services. The Pastor whispered to my father while standing in the back doorway, that he needed to fix a problem. The Pastor had gotten himself into a bit of a pickle. The Pastor knocked on the back door of the clinic and wanted his problem fixed. As soon as possible. There were already rumors in the congregation, he said. So in a hushed southern whisper, so God would not hear, the Pastor, with his daughter by his side, made an appointment to fix the problem. The following Friday after his problem was fixed he was picketing the clinic along with other pro-lifers.Screaming hell fire with a dead whateveritwas in a mason jar. Jesus SAVES! Jesus TAKES AWAY! Shake that mason jar. That same Christmas the Pastor and other pro-lifers were picketing our home.One rather large man was dressed as Santa, screaming about abortion and threatening to kill my father. Light the candles and kill the doctor. Shake that mason jar with whateveritwas inside. They would scream at me as I pulled into the driveway.
A week later, his daughter, younger that I, and no longer pregnant, threw a beer in my face at an outdoor party after some Friday night sports event. Must have been basketball.I was still in my cheerleading outfit and a bunch of us were standing around a fire pit. All of a sudden someone was running towards me screaming, holding a red solo cup.Then it was freezing cold beer.Slap dead center in my face. It stung. I did not know who this person was. I know you, she screamed. You’re the butchers daughter!!.
And then I heard the story of the Pastor who raped his daughter, got her pregnant, fixed his problem and pointed the finger of Jesus at me. His daughter no longer carried his problem, but carried his projection and his hypocrisy. And his hate.
I know small towns.
I know how deals work. How people with fragile egos get something on someone, so they can get what they want. I know how one hand feeds, slaps, shakes, squeezes the other. I know how one hand holds a cross while the other holds a weapon.
I know small towns where everybody knows everybody even if they don’t.
When I left that town, I never looked back.
I was reminded of the same thread that binds and unravels. Some stayed. Some left. Some left and came back. It’s still the same.
But here I am, where I live now. There are true delights about where I live just as there are the same frustrations we all feel when the confines of a small town begin to errode the heart and soul of good people. There are people where I live that I love. I would do anything for them.I have seen their heartache, their love, their joy, their pain and happily helped them get on the path leading directly out of this place. Choose,I say to them.
Choose, I say to myself.
It’s like this in all small towns.
I hate it when people say this to me.
It’s not like this. It gets like this. It gets like this when people do nothing.
You do what I say. Do what I want.
Nothing is ever done.
Town employees openly display their hate for the schools and for years, lead the fight to fund the schools with only one dollar. Yes. You read that right. One dollar. The schools are usually the largest infrastructure of any town, providing services that reach far beyond an education. Public schools are not perfect, but perfect for what is needed for most who live in a small town. Schools need funding. Especially schools forced to remain stuck in the same era the town imposes. The late 70’s. Who needs a 21st century education?, some will say.
Everyone deserves a 21st century education. Everyone.
Nothing is ever done.
Where some money goes nobody knows.
The town needs fixing some will say.
When the people who are in charge of doing the fixing, need fixing, everything falls down. Apathy sets in.Throw in a pandemic and a small town already cracking at the broke down places begin to show the true underbelly of what happens when the needs of a community go unmet for years.
The cracks show up not only in the infrastructure of the town, any town, our towns, but in the people who live in the town and never got their needs met. Ever. They never got what they wanted and always got plenty of what they did not want.
They never found the happy, but found the pain. They were taught to settle and to point the finger anywhere but inward.
And it’s all your fault.
Some went to war,came back broken, fell in love with a cause that fed on their pain and teaches them to hate even more, to hurt, to hurl more than words. To pick up a gun, and take back this country! Man. Fuck you, man.
Eveything becomes a grift or a con or a get, or a take. They leave a path of destruction and the residue settles on their children and on the women who think their man’s hurt is far worse than theirs, so they just stay. Or trade down. They will stay and take the pain, because they never got what they wanted and it’s too late. Nobody saved them, and no one taught them to save themselves. Too late at 18. Too late at 25 with three kids. Too late at 35 with an ex-husband and a shitty boyfriend. They project all their own unimagined dreams and un met needs on anyone who will take it. Enough of this shit, they will say. Let me pretend. It’s not my fault anyway. It’s somebody’s fault and somebody has to pay.
Who needs an education anyway?
They take. And take. And take.
It’s all your fault.
And they hurl the residue of all their hate, and pain and fear.
And in this place where I live, more good people go.
Who wants to stay?