The Armpit

Gene Weingarten’s article in the Washington Post Magazine this weekend, Why Not the Worst? was excellent. It’s a profile of Battle Mountain, Nevada, the armpit of America. Really, it sounds just wonderful. From the gigantic BM whitewashed on the hill to the delapidated downtown, it sounds really… armpittarific.
But, that’s not all. It’s really a great piece about America and how things have changed. Read it.
Which brings me to one of this weekend’s little epiphanies. Between being DAD, getting Jen to medicate her poor flu-ridden self and coughing up oyster-like collections myself, I got to go out for a little while. On Saturday, while Jen and Max were napping, I went to the book store, bought the latest Preacher collection and Purple Cane Road by James Lee Burke. Then, I went to Saigon Cafe, had fried spring rolls and Pork with Funny Noodle and read.
It brought back memories of my pre-married life in Tucson. I went out to lunch every day, always with reading material. Since we had to stagger our lunch times so the phones were always manned, I always ate alone. So, I read. I read almost the entire John Irving library (Hotel New Hampshire and the latest are the only ones I haven’t read), the entire James Lee Burke collection, and more comic books than I can count.
It was at this time, when I had no responsibilities, no debts, nothing to do but work and goof off that I realized I’d lived a sheltered life and knew next to nothing about how the world works. I decided, at the ripe young age of 20 that I needed to get out and meet different people. It was something I’d missed at BYU, where everyone’s lily-white and mostly from Utah or Idaho. They’re 99.6% conservative young Republicans, think the same things, do the same things, etc. After that, and my accident on my mission (that story will come much much much later if I ever decide to tell it here), I knew I was missing something. I’d lived all over the world and seen a lot, but hadn’t met people who didn’t agree with what I’d been taught my whole life. So, I began a quest (yeah, another one). I wanted to meet and get to know people from all different “categories”.
I didn’t have to go far. If you’ve never worked tech support, I’ll let you in on a secret. The facelessness of phone work means you can look like pretty much whatever you want. AOL in Tucson was a hotbed of “alternative lifestyles”. There I met my first lesbian, bi-sexual, gay man, transsexual, transvestite, pot smokers, etc etc. After working with them for a while, I realized they weren’t as different as I thought they’d be. Their views weren’t way out there and devilish like I was brought up to believe. They were just people, doing their thing the way they saw fit. They were pleasant and cool and loved to share their views on everything.
(this is a lot longer than I had intended)
And that’s where it began. Six and a half years ago. Now, I’m married, have a son, a good job, and have been working on this concept. Reading the article in the Post yesterday formalized it a little bit. So, here it is. America is big enough for anyone who wants to live here and do their thing. As long as you can live with a couple rules (you know, the “good of the society” stuff, going without murderin’ or thievin’), you’re ok. You can find somewhere to live, a group of people who agree with you, a place to live unfettered by anyone else’s ideas or rules. That’s part of what makes America great. The American Dream isn’t one dream. It’s the opportunity for everyone to have their own dream and to follow it. That little town in Nevada was a place for people with a little town dream. New York is a place for big city dreams. There are thousands of towns and places here that fit all kinds of dreams, you just have to find one that fits your’s.
:: and the soapbox goes away, and I’m going to get back to work – happy Monday ::

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