Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Analyze This

"It's muddy out here. Did you wear some shoes you can get muddy?" The Husband asks. "Yep, I'm good." I say, glancing down at my boots. "Oh, you've got your Ropers on." He detects the slight change in my accent. He had coined the term- Plainview Marcy- years ago, long before he would earn the title of The Husband.

It's amazing how others who know you well can see things about you-things you yourself don't. We think we know ourselves, we believe we have an accurate picture of how we look, act and sound. Then, we hear ourselves on an answering machine or catch a glimpse of ourselves in a reflection and realize the picture we have painted for ourselves is a little -off- . Sometimes we don't even recognize the image staring back at us.

My hometown is small. Its' simple name derived from topography. Life there is simple as well. Streets are laid out alphabetically and in numerical order. Church bells still chime from the steeples and parts of old downtown are paved with brick. There are systems in place to provide structure for its' citizens. You know folks because they know you and your family. You know what church they belong to and they know who your grandparents are. There is really no need for the yellow pages; you know who to go to if you need a tire changed or a specific nut and bolt. People recognize you and speak to you with a sincere interest in your life away from there. You are part of the landscape that makes up the town.

The Husband had explained his theory on Plainview Marcy to me after we had gone to visit my hometown. "You act a little different, more small-town" he had said. "Your accent gets thicker too." he added, with a little smile that said he had me figured out. I was sure he was mistaken. I most certainly didn't act differently based on who I was around or the location I was in. This was ridiculous. In the least, his theory seemed to point out a weakness or minor flaw, a lack of self-awareness. At the most a borderline personality disorder, which immediately triggered my defenses. I was, however, curious to discover if his observations held any merit, so I began to pay closer attention to my words and actions. And, over the years, I've decided that he may just be right about this.

After all, where and how you are raised must play into who you are and how you behave based on your beliefs. It's absurd to think that it doesn't. We are not hard-wired at birth-our beliefs and morals are shaped and molded during our formative years and we act on them, not fully aware of the possibilities that exist elsewhere. Just look into the eyes of any parent sending their child off to college for the first time. It's there. The hope that their child will make good choices, that the other 'possibilities' out there will not seem so attractive. And the values and morals that they were raised with are firmly rooted. But humans are reactionary creatures. We succumb to forces, sometimes without awareness. We react to situations in order to blend into the environment and we create personas based on the feedback of others. Could this be what The Husband had alluded to in its most simplistic form? Was I really just a Country Mouse playing dress-up in City Mouse's wardrobe?

The 'phenomenon' that I had so defensively denied is no longer. The source of change exposed rendering the term phenomenon inaccurate. Anytime I am exposed to bits or pieces of my hometown, a real change occurs. It's now just another rung on the wobbly ladder of Self-Awareness. I'm no longer offended by his observations and I never should have been to start with. It should have dawned on me the day he told me Andy Griffith was his all-time favorite show. Plainview Marcy was enduring, an asset really. She was a being on the verge of extinction. An affect of small-town Texas that had been buried under years of metropolitan-relocation. I perceived myself as a City Girl, able to hail a cab and secure a job by parlaying a more sophisticated urban dialect. The West Texas drawl all but vanished from my accent, substituting phrases like 'oh most definitely' for 'I reckon' and 'yellow' for 'yella'.

The Husband had pushed the envelope so to speak and forced me to preform a kind of pseudo-socio-scientific experiment on myself, observing changes in my mannerisms, behavior and speech patterns. In the end proving his theory true.

I no longer question this theory, Plainview Marcy exists. She is the proverbial Cinderella, but instead of a glass slipper to spark her transformation into a white-gloved princess, a pair of brown ropers (worn slick on the bottom from many a Saturday night Presbyterian church dance) provide the source. Her court is not regal, they are just hometown folks with good manners and a vested interest in her well being, providing an accurate reflection of her true self.


Liz said...

love your blog!
lots of fun!


minicooper said...

You are an insightful writer. This was a good one. I am sure every "Plainview girl in the big city" has experienced the same feelings. Living in Plainview and leaving Plainview can be bittersweet.

Moose Coming May 27th!!