Sunday, May 17, 2009

Identity Issues

Last weekend we traveled back to the old home place for Mother’s Day and to celebrate TM’s grandmother’s 90th birthday.  G-ma’s birthday party, a little afternoon reception, was at her little church in this little town* in the middle of nowhere.

It was lovely, and there were a substantial number of little old southern ladies, and I was on my best little southern belle behavior.  I was raised to be a good southern girl, and I can rock that role with the best of ‘em.  Heck, TM’s aunt (that has a degree in home economics from a large SEC school but doesn’t know how to pin a corsage or cut a cake properly) complimented me on it!  I had some serious lulz over that.  

So when I was in between being introduced to every little old lady in the southern half of the state, I was sitting quietly acting like the nicest, loveliest lady in the place* and clutching my pearls as appropriate** and whatnot, I got to thinking.  I was astonished by how different the person I was in that setting is from the person I am most days. 

For that audience, if anyone had asked what I do, I would have simply said that I was a scientist.  My feeling is that would be frowned on.  Maybe I’m wrong.  However, it wasn’t an issue then, and I doubt it ever will be, because none of those little old ladies would ask me what I do.  For some reason, that leaves me with a sense of loss.  I do still have some love for small town life and southern gentility, and I suppose it makes me a little sad that I’ll never really fit into that world again. 

On the flip side, it also makes me wonder what tiny bits and pieces of myself I’ve lost to get to where I am now.  I wonder if scientist me and southern belle me are just different sides of the same coin, or if I’m just playing the roles as needed.  Neither feels fake in the moment, but when they’re juxtaposed so closely it makes me wonder if either is real.  Perhaps I’ll make like Scarlett O’Hara and think about tomorrow at Tara when I can stand it. 

*Population 5000.

**Which I’m SO not—I wasn’t even wearing pantyhose!

***No I’m not making that up.  

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