By Heather O.
I used to be a city girl. Seriously, I applied to go to college in a small town in Illinois, which sounded nice and looked pretty on all the brochures, but when I got there, I was horrified at how isolated it was. It was closer to the border of Iowa and lots and lots of corn than any actual city.
So I went to school in Boston. Born in LA, raised in Salt Lake City, I felt pretty at home in Boston, and my father laughed when I talked about it, saying, “Heather just really doesn’t do rural.”
I spent yesterday in Boston, for my semi-annual drug study check up. (Did I tell you I’m in drug study? I am. The study is out of Beth Israel Hospital, which is in Boston. I go there twice a year. It’s pretty awesome.) Now, if you’ve been reading for any amount of time, y’all know that I love Boston. But this time, I dunno. I felt claustrophobic on the subway, and I wore sandals instead of sturdy shoes, which means that all the walking I had to do in one of the most pedestrian friendly cities in America caused some gnarly blisters. By the end of the day, my feet were so sore I slipped off my shoes at the airport and walked to the parking lot barefoot. (I was also barefoot on the plane, which I think kinda grossed my seat mate out. Sorry, sore feet won out over etiquette.)
While I was on the subway, I was smashed up against the door so tightly that it actually closed on my backpack and caught the straps in between the two doors. “I don’t remember the T being so claustrophobic. I guess I’m officially a country mouse,” I texted to my husband.
He texted back, “There are worse things.”
Now that I’m no longer much of a city girl, I wonder if I should buy a horse.
There were other things I contemplated too, during my alone time. (It’s amazing how much thinking you can get done when nobody needs a lunch made, or a planner signed, or a bum wiped.) Not only am I more country, I think I’m more introverted. I don’t like talking to people on planes—I just want to be left alone with my thoughts or my book or my sleep. My travel plans were kind of screwy (when are they not?) and I ended up flying up and back from Boston on the same day. It wasn’t my plan, but, plans change. There was a couple who was on my early flight up in the morning, AND were on my flight back that night. I saw them, recognized, them, and thought I should say something pithy, like, “Well, how was YOUR day in Boston?” But then I decided I would rather read my book in peace, so I chose a seat in the terminal a bit away from them, a spot that didn’t encourage conversation.
I also saw a woman reading a book of Mormon on the plane. There wasn’t an easy way to talk to her, as she was in a seat ahead of me and across the aisle, but I could have caught up with her at baggage claim or something to make conversation. She wasn’t reading a regular triple combination, she was reading a blue copy, the kind that missionaries hand out. I passed her waiting for her gate checked luggage on the ramp coming off the plane, and I did hesitate for a brief second, wondering what to say. Should I wink and say, “I’m LDS too!” or, “Hey, I’ve read that book, it’s good isn’t it!” and wait for the knowing laugh that would come from a member, or look for another sign that she was an investigator?
I paused in front of the woman, felt the person in back of me almost run into me, and then continued walking. I didn’t stop anywhere along the way either—i walked, as I said, barefooted straight to my car.
The nurse in charge of my study used an offensive term as a joke when she was telling a story. She was ostensibly talking to the doctor, not me, and I don’t consider her a rude or offensive person in general. So do I interrupt her story to tell her not to use language like that, that I found it offensive? How does one do that gracefully, I wondered. I think my face registered my surprise that she would use such a phrase, and she did say, “You know, how we used to say, in the old days.” I chalked up her offensive language to a generation gap, and decided not to comment. Also, I just wasn’t sure how to do it, or what to say.
Introverted. Or cowardly. Or both.
I do know that I’m not a summer girl, I’m a fall girl. I took my dogs for a morning walk, and I needed a light sweatshirt to walk them comfortably. The breeze that was making the trees rustle was not the hot breeze of a coming thunderstorm, but rather the cool promise of the end of humidity and of cooler days and nights without air conditioning and pumpkins and apples and cider and nights sitting on the porch with some hot chocolate. I took a deep breath, and felt my spirits lift.
Country introvert or city extrovert, some things inside don’t ever change.
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