Just when they were getting ready to promote me to supervisor, I’m quitting the market research job. This is my last week. Tomorrow night they’re having a party for me and another coworker, an old hardworking country-loving Texan who I call Handsome and who calls me Good Lookin’, who has been working there for an eternity. We’re both quitting to spend more time with our kids. He, closer to the end of his life; me, closer to the beginning of Rocky’s.
I’ve learned two things at that job. One, I really, really like supervising people. Two, I really, really need to be around people so I don’t go crazy. Three, ok, there are three, I don’t detest an office job as much as I thought I would. In fact, it’s a nice change after a long day on my feet. And learning computer programs is . . . well, it’s fun. Don’t quote me on that. After all, I’m supposed to love having dirt under my nails, being from the farm and all.
Speaking of deeply ingrained belief systems, my incredible, amazingly tough therapist (lets call her Doc from now on) spent the last couple’s session, the entire hour, letting me and Rukan in on her plans for our future. Apparently, I’m going to grad school, and I’m going into management. “You are a talented leader, Blue, and you’re very smart. Don’t let it go to waste.” According to her plan, I will at some point be joining the professional class, making 75-90k/year. Uh, what?
I know, right? To her credit, she’s right about me – many of you have not had a chance to get to know this part of me, but I am a natural leader. Always have been. If I weren’t so emotionally stunted, I’d be running people’s lives right now. In the right settings, my peers look to me for leadership. And I am smart. I’ve never really believed that. Both of those Blue-facts have come into the light in the past year.
Then Doc told me what I’d be getting my advanced degree in, and my jaw literally dropped. Big-biz marketing? City planner? Poli-sci?
After a few moments watching my stunned silence, Doc chuckled and said, “close your mouth, honey.”
“But I hate politics. And marketing. And Doc, city planner? I mean, really?”
What followed was an enlightening conversation that has cracked my head clean open. Have you ever heard the one about the creatures living in a 2-dimensional world, who have no idea there’s a much bigger, 3-dimensional world out there, until something from the 3rd dimension bumps into them? You just have no concept of anything beyond your scope of reality. Unless something bumps into you, and you are able to open your mind to another reality.
The reality of my family is that we’re artists, musicians, writers, truck driving hippies and edgy women with dirt under our nails. Inheritors of a fortune made by our privateering ancestors, we have gone to school and become educated, not to make more money, but to better the world through the hands-on work we do for little pay. Our inheritance now gone, my generation is facing a recession which I believe will mark the end our nation’s high ride. What goes up must come down, and we’re going to crash hard.
I’m a survivalist like my Dad and brother. I’m going to learn to hunt, and grow chickens, veggies, herbs and fruit on my acre of Kentucky. Seriously, don’t laugh, I have been talking to people about teaching me to shoot, and I believe I might actually learn to aim, shoot, kill, haul, gut, prepare and eat wild game within a few years. I’m going to build skills with which I can trade for needed services and items. I’m going to live off the grid. That’s what we in my family do when there’s trouble in the wind.
Then Doc cracked my head open a little more. She offered me a peek into a new dimension. She said, “you have a prejudice toward the professional class. It’s time to get over it.” I thought about it for a moment. I have a deep commitment to honoring my family and its way of life. Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say, I believe my family’s way, the way of dirt under your nails and helping others for little pay, is the only really honorable way to live. And thus my prejudice.
So . . . my family’s way of life . . . is . . . not . . . the . . . only . . . right . . .
. . . way. Heaving of bosom, catching of breath.
Doc pointed out that when we’re no longer on the margin, when I’m making the money I’m capable of, I’ll be able to help people more. Yes, but, but . . . I don’t wanna grow up and be responsible! I don’t wanna sacrifice! I don’t wanna leave my comfort zone! Mama, tell them to stop cracking my head open!
Rukan, with a new kind of gleam in her eye, added, “We won’t have the worry over our heads of Rocky’s college, or our retirement. We won’t have to worry about how to pay for Rocky’s cardiologist visits. We can travel.” She was getting excited, seeing, for the first time, that we could have a different future than that we’d always expected for ourselves. Then she said The Big Thing.
“Blue, if you go to grad school, I’ll be right behind you. I’ll go to college.”
But, you hate school. You’re school-phobic. You swore you’d never go back. You are the epitome of hands-on helping, my rock-solid working-class goddess. And hell, you don’t even think you can pass the National Massage Exam.
“Yeah, I’ll pass it.”
So Doc’s got Rukan inspired enough to turn toward college, and I’m floating in the 5th dimension, staring around me in shock and awe and fear and – what’s that? A little piercing ray of excitement. I think Doc must write Obama’s speeches.
“You can still have chickens,” said Rukan.