Maybe I try to find more things to identify with than the average bear because my family is nearly microscopic. My grandmother described herself as the black sheep of the family, and I nearly shot Coca-Cola out of my nose. As the only person in the family who has managed to get married exactly once to a man she super-loves, who has no children in or out of wedlock, who has never been divorced, and who is an ATHEIST amongst a legion of mega-Christians, I would prefer to believe that I would be the sheep most likely to be camouflaged in a coal mine. My parents can tie with me, since the only difference is that they had a kid and I refuse to procreate. My grandmother still talks to most of the people in our family. I've never met almost all of them.
Anyway, I found out that my great great grandfather was Amish, meaning I'm distantly related to people who don't use electricity. Out of curiosity I looked up "Amish" on Wikipedia, and found out that they are mostly Swiss by ancestry. Neato. My grandma's maiden name is not German, as I had previously believed, but Swiss-derived. Now I'm not gonna go run out and buy a Swiss flag and start wearing lederhosen or anything, but it's nifty to learn these things about your ancestors.
Not nearly as nifty is to learn things about less distant relatives. The ones whose front window had a shower curtain of the Texas flag hanging in front of it. Those who had a couch in their front yard. S asked, "Is it the sort of couch that should be outside? Like maybe she meant they had patio furniture, and one piece wasn't a chair but a couch." I said, "No, she meant that those people had a sofa on their lawn." Not to mention these people live in a state that sees a lot of weather. I can only imagine the state of said furniture after a couple seasons.
It's forcing me to think about how I had a Sociology professor who asked us how many of us had grandparents who were farmers, and how many had parents who were farmers. There were more hands up for the grandparents than parents, and he commented on how we are only about a generation away from being a country chock-full of farmers. His point was actually deeper than that. But my point is that how far removed am I from those people? Not farmers, I have nothing against growing food. But...you know. Those people. I have learned to appreciate tiny Southern towns more than anyone my age really should, and I was nearly in tears over North Carolina barbecue last summer, but I made a point the entire time I lived there to not acquire a Southern accent. I may be able to enjoy the occasional glass of tea, but for some reason I shun the idea of throwing sugar into the mix. Our house is bright, with only indoor furniture, and shower curtains in the places you would expect to find them. But if I take a step back or diagonally I'm running into what a friend and I referred to as "number 3s," a reference to the death of Dale Earnhardt. I'm not afraid of turning into that which I make fun of so readily and so often, but seriously, I'd much rather just keep mentally associating with the people in my family who drive horse-drawn buggies to the store every day.
For James Vance, and his family
2 months ago