It seems to me that I do have the misfortune of being too city for the country and too country for the city, as Kate has said of herself as well. This fact was made even more apparent to me this past weekend when I traveled to Wisconsin’s capitol, the great and liberal city of Madison, for the State Forensics competition (for those who think I am talking about cutting up bodies and analyzing remains, forensics is basically speech/debate competition).
A busload of Cashton kids was unleashed on the city for a day under iron gray clouds, spitting out bits of cold rain and occasional hail. (Ah! Beautiful Wisconsin spring weather….but wait ,that is another issue entirely.) My beautiful Ukrainian friend, Kseniya, was along for the trip, and throughout the day, she was to prove to me just how country I was.
Kseniya is from a large city in Ukraine, and despite being in a place where she is not a native speaker, she can get around better than I can. Several times throughout the day when we didn’t know where to go, she would simply walk up to the nearest person and ask where something was or how to get into a place, absolutely confident, despite her accent. This was amazing to me. Here I was, a person who’s lived in Wisconsin all her life, unable to sum up the courage to ask which way up even was. Kseniya was astounded, saying, “That’s the reason I love cities! You can ask anyone a question and they will tell you what you need to know,” and, “Don’t you love being able to smile at random people on the street?” Ummmm, no, because I live on top of a ridge where the main population is Slatterys.
Although I wasn’t used to not being able to jaywalk across the streets and the sheer amount of people all around me, I did love the city. I loved walking down the street and looking in shop windows, filled with everything from popcorn to high fashion. Cafes populated almost every corner and spread warm light and the luscious scents of rich coffee and sugary pastries into the rain darkened afternoon, a sore temptation for a Catholic girl with a coffee and bakery fetish in the throes of Lent.
I ultimately returned home late that night with a gold medal for solo acting in Forensics, a severely lightened wallet, and a new appreciation for the braveness of my city friend, Kseniya. I liked the glimpse into city life, but I still don’t know what I am. Country? City? Can I have both?