Friday, January 16, 2009

Awkward Situations

I am a queen of awkward situations. For some reason, I have an incredible knack for saying the wrong thing, or making people feel uncomfortable. Sometimes I wonder if I seek out these situations, bringing the “awkward” to any moment that would otherwise have been completely normal. Is there something in my nature that pushes me to make wildly inappropriate comments in front of people who are proper or who don’t know me? Is there some traitorous part of myself that wants, no, desires to ruin my chances at normal interaction?

Today, in the petit hall at Sciences Po, a friend of mine was studying at the table behind mine with a group. One of the men she was working with was quite attractive and kept making loud interjections in an appealing accent. These utterances were causing me to turn around on occasion and overhear a large part of their conversation. When my friend asked a question about the French “bisous” (the greeting that involves a kiss on each cheek) and whether or not French men sporadically greet each other in this manner, I felt somehow compelled to turn around and state, in a tone that was strange and in a volume that was several decibels too high, “Yes! They so do!” Sara, my friend, is used to me, and just laughed, but all three of the guys she was with stared at me for a second before I explained that my French teacher had just talked about the evolution of bisous etiquette.

This small, in all appearances, casual interaction has given those three guys, one of whom I see constantly in the halls of Sciences Po, a certain impression of me- an impression that says, “Crazy,” or, “Intense,” or the oh-so-feared, “Ditz.” These statements are not false. I am, at times, crazy, intense, and ditzy; it is not unheard of for me to be all these things at once. However, I would prefer to give the immediate impressions of “Bright,” or, “Attractive,” or the ever-so-sought-after, “Cool,” for I am, at times, all of these things as well.

Upon telling Michelle what I was writing about, she proceeded to inform me that I am actually not awkward at all. I’ll leave it for those who know me to decide…

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Home for the Holidays

Moscow, Idaho is a strange place. It’s a place where the snow-covered hills meld into the sky, where geeks are beautiful, and where kids can grow up to be people so different one would think that they have nothing in common. Until they come back to Moscow, Idaho. We come from Bowdoin, Bard, and Barnard, Western Washington, Seattle U, and Lewis and Clark; we come from Paris, New Zealand, and Spain. For one week, or two, we revert back to the relationships and personalities we had when we were in high school.

We’ve all changed, of course we have, but those changes, just for a little while, are secondary to the people we’ve been for most of our lives. When you run into someone who’s known you since you wore diapers, it’s hard to be the sophisticated, nearly-adult, individual you’ve so recently become.

Moscow, Idaho is a great place to grow up. It’s the kind of place one spends one’s whole life trying to leave, but once one actually manages to get out of dodge, it’s an easy place to miss. My bad memories of elementary school bullying, boring high school classes, and the lack of diversity melt away, leaving good memories and the faces of people I never want to forget. And every time I go back, I learn about something cool or re-connect with someone I haven’t seen in ages.
I’m always struck by how at ease I feel when I’m hanging out with my Moscow people. There’s no need to act cool or watch what I say; my friends in Moscow know that I’m slightly crazy and like to hang out with me anyway. And, because we’re used to creating our own amusement, we can have fun playing a board game, wii, or just drinking a couple beers, listening to music (and usually singing along as well).

I went home for Christmas break. Home is a relative term for me. It means where ever my family is, any place I lay my head for more than a few weeks, but it will also mean, maybe forever, a small university town in the middle of the rolling hills of the Palouse. My dad once told me that the Palouse was in my blood. I believe him, too. The rolling hills and woods have worked their way into my veins and heart; a part of me will always be the girl that hiked through wheat fields, sat on giant rocks on a mountain top, and collected salamander eggs in Virgil Phillip’s pond.
This break, I stayed out until 4 in the morning almost every night. My parents realized early on that there wasn’t much trouble I could get into in town, so coming home so late wasn’t a new thing. I played music again and read comic books. I hung out while my guy friends played Dota and felt old at New Year’s when my friend’s little sister’s friends came over. All of them were from the High School, and I didn’t know any of them. Not for the first time, I wished that I could transport Cece, Martin, David, Brendan, Emmett, Ariel, and everyone else to Paris with me. Life would be so perfect if I could live in a big city in Europe with all those people I love around me.

We like to think that Moscow, Idaho never changes, and for those who have stayed, it doesn’t seem to. But I notice that things are changing. I notice the new businesses springing up, the fact that our silos are being dismantled bit by bit and that, ever so slowly, there are more international students, more students of color, more difference of every kind. Some of the change is great, and some really sucks (like the amount of Christ Church goers), and it is happening slowly, so it’s easy to adapt to. But some things will never change, and for that I am very grateful.