I used to live in a big city. Yes, the big city with lots of people, traffic, and general noise. I never really knew that city, and never felt like I belonged. When I came to a small town, I tried to fit in. Everyone needs to belong somewhere, so for me it could as well be the first small town I stepped my foot into. I walked around trying to get to know people, and be like them, because I was a no one and did not belong. I became good at imitating locals and could as well pass for a small town person. Or at least that’s what I thought was happening.
My today’s trip to a nearby city shattered my ideas about where I belong. As I was walking through the mall, I was feeling surprisingly comfortable with crowds of people around, which is, of course, normally not the case for people from small towns. A second later, I caught myself trying to smile at the people passing by – my smile being met by blank faces. A thought occurred to me, what if I, indeed, am a small town person. Everyone was wearing what a few years ago I would have called daily casual – and what I would call dress-up clothes now. I was wearing my casual – which meant a black tee a size and a half bigger than I am, and a random pair of black rolled up pants – with guys’ flip flops on my feet, because they are comfy. I felt out of place, lost, and could hardly believe what has happened. A few salespeople asked me whether I was not from there – meaning, not from a big city. To them I was a country person – some weird freak who should have been hiding in her village instead of coming to the gathering of people called the mall. And I was not pretending. That’s who I was. That’s who I am. And I have to admit, I am sad I lost my big city culture. I used to be able to pick out a stunning outfit in a few minutes and enjoyed wearing nice clothes. Now jeans and a sweatshirt is the limit to my creativity. I don’t see the point of wearing nice clothes, neither do I want to spend time trying to buy nice clothes. I am indeed a small town person. Not just pretending. How the hell did that happen? How did I lose the skill I never realized I had?
The funny thing is, I don’t belong to the small town either.