Thursday, June 08, 2006

So I'm white bread

I am a white bread, vanilla yogurt, right winged, middle aged, Mormon.
There really is no way around it. That is who I am.
I was raised in a sheltered little community in Wyoming. The largest man made structure, by far was, and still is, the Mormon Church where every Sunday my family and I worshiped God.
The church is one block east of my childhood home. During the summer months we took the shortcut and walked through the Elementary School playground, which bordered the back yard of our family home.
For the rest of the week, our summers were spent on the ranch on a dirt road leading to nowhere. Our nearest neighbors to the west were about a mile away. Several miles to the east, down the winding dirt road, lived our other neighbor, a bachelor farmer.
We lived on the ranch in the summer because Dad worked long, hard hours in the field. The mornings were spent cleaning house and making the noon meal for the hay men. In the afternoon we all sat down to our sewing machines and worked on making school clothes.
We moved into town for the school year. In my compact little town the community hospital was on the corner of my block. The Elementary school was just behind it. We usually cut through the hospital parking lot on our way to school. Since the door to the Elementary school and the hospital nursery faced each other, we often stopped by on the way home from school to see if there were any new babies.
If Mom wanted a few extra groceries, or the mail, she sent one of her five children downtown, which was one block north of our house. We usually cut through the back yard of the dentist office to shorten the trip. We all knew the combination of the family mailbox before we knew our home address.
There were no blacks, Hispanics, Asians, and Native Americans that I knew of in our town. But my best friend for most of my elementary school years was Lutheran. Her father was a full-blood Dane who worked for the government. That’s how he ended up in our little isolates bit of the world. When they prayed they used the sign of the cross.
I was fascinated.
I grew up in the 1960s. But we didn’t have a television in our house until I was 11 years old. It really didn’t matter all that much, we could only get one channel. I remember going to the neighbor’s house to watch the moon landing.
I knew two families of divorce. The first was a divorced woman who worked in various places in town including the dentist office, the bank, and the drug store. Her daughter was my age, and for some reason lived with her father in Utah, Sometimes she would come to visit bringing her shockingly big city values with her
I was fascinated.
The other was a family that moved next door to our house when I was a teen-ager. The father had married a much younger woman, a “wicked stepmother” with exacting rules of kitchen cleanliness that included scrubbing the sink and sweeping the floor every evening when washing the dishes.
They weren’t members of “the church” when they moved into our town, but we quickly converted them. The entire family, except the 14-year-old daughter, was baptized on the same night. The oldest girl was unable to attend because she was busy visiting a home for unwed mothers, waiting for the birth of her first child. A year later, after her son was born and given adoptive parents, she also joined the church.
My locker mate left half-way during our freshman year in college to go to the same home for unwed mothers. I think she was 13 at the time. She gave up her child, and her education. The last time I saw her she was working in a pizza joint in the small town of my birth. We were both in our 40s.
I am not clear why, but I have a tendency to seek friendships among the non- white bread, vanilla yogurt, right winged, Mormons in my community. I love their stories, the richness and texture they bring to my life.
I suppose this is part of what draws me to journalism. People interest me. I am particularly interest in people who are very much unlike me, slightly alarmed, in some cases by the differences, but interested none-the-less
This often leaves me in the strange situation of being either the most conservative person my edgy friends know, or the most outlandishly liberal person known by my fellow white bread Mormons.
I guess the point of this whole conversation with myself. A conversation so compelling it has led me to climb out of bed at 5 a.m. and write this blog, is: I am who I am, I’m too old to change. I hope you accept that about me. And know that I will accept that you are who you are.
I might disagree with your politics and your religious beliefs, or lack thereof. There’s a very good chance I won’t understand things that are core to your existence.
But still, I am fascinated.


Amy Sorensen said...

What a gorgeous entry! I think that when you grow up in a sheltered LDS community, two things tend to either become annoyed/bothered/judgemental of those who are different from you, or you become more aware of (in a celebratory sort of way) the differences. You're definitely the second way!

horseygal said...

A,you rock!!!

Being raised in the Air Force and having a European mother, I got used to a lot of diversity and also find myself very interested in the culture of others.

Wyo sis said...

Of course your take on white bread eliminates you from the stereotypical "white bread" genre. Real "white bread" [spoken with a liberal sneer] is not aware of it's white breadiness. I love the pictures.

Wyo bro said...

Well now mom is still in the same house but the hospital is now three blocks away, the elementary school is in the same place but will move five blocks away and the jr. and sr. high school has moved a mile and a half away as well as the grocery store a mile away. Times change but this is still a real amall town. The church is in the same place. Now I would say about one third of the families here are "mixed" families.

Anonymous said...

Long live white bread. I like brown bread but it doesn't love me. I am speaking of Bread,bread of course. The Liberals that sneer at "white bread" are people that generally live in huge mansions and have gobs of money and have Non white bread nannys and maids. What do they know about how most of the rest of us live. I wish I still lived in a small town. It is much quieter, slower. and peaceful. I miss living in a small town. Loved the entry and the photos. I meet lots of different people from all over the world. My job in a University lends itself to many oppertunities to meet people. In general they are so like us, yet so different Viva la difference