While there was never much doubt, this weekend’s dinner reiterated that TinyTown would never be a place I’d call home.
It’s not the first time we’ve felt the ‘outsider’ vibe, it’s happened quite a bit to me. This past Friday night it morphed into something we all felt, and while the kids don’t know what to label that feeling, Papa and I do.
Outsider: One who is excluded from a party, association, or set. One who is isolated or detached from the activities or concerns of his or her own community.
When we entered the restaurant, there were several other tables full of people enjoying a nice dinner. Ragetti’s is not a fancy Italian restaurant by any stretch of the imagination, but it does have pretty good food. In a town (and I’ll say Ragetti’s isn’t even in the town where we live, we actually drove 20 minutes to get there), it’s sort of the only place to go other than fast food. It was not our first visit as we go there every couple of months. It’s usually enjoyable.
We’d been siting only a few minutes when the restaurant started to fill up. There were looks in our direction, probably muted whispers of ‘who are they?’. It’s amazing what you can get used to. When we go out here in TinyTown, we get that a lot. Not only are we outsiders to the community, we are also a multi-cultural family, something very,very uncommon around here. I actually can’t think of a single time I’ve seen an Asian person in the community except the workers at the Chinese restaurant.
You do your best to ignore it. Sometimes, it’s not always possible. The thing is, it’s not like anyone said anything to us, they didn’t, but you can feel the looks, and it wasn’t even so much about race, it was more than we were not a part of their community. I’ve never felt so uncomfortable while eating a plate of noodles.
Listening to everyone talking around us, accents are very heavy here in Central Kentucky, and in the beginning of the ten month TinyTown adventure, I really hard a hard time understanding people. It’s wrong to say maybe, and certainly not a PC thing to write, but there’s a reason a stigma exists about the South. The use of proper English was sadly lacking at the tables surrounding us. It’s more than a dropped ‘g’ here or there.
I felt ashamed as we finished our meal, got into our car and drove away. Here I was, judging their lack of education, or lack of respect for the English language, and for their fear of people they didn’t even know. There’s no reason we had to feel like we were shunted outside the Special TinyTown Circle. Even when we lived in Germany, I haven’t felt so unwanted in a town as I have here.
I tried to make this ten month stay a grand adventure, a real take on what life in a small town would be like. I adjusted to only have two places to shop, one of them a grocery store; a library so poorly stocked we never even bothered after the first two visits, a town with more churches than than any town I’ve ever seen.
I tried. I really did.
Ten months of trying. The only thing I learned was that small towns are not for me. Places that don’t celebrate the diversity in the world are not for us. A community that can’t embrace people who are new is not a place I will ever call my home.