I’ve wandered from place to place my whole life. Some of it was intentional. I tend to have a bit of wanderlust — not that I’m unhappy where I am, not at all. But I find it fun to explore and experience new things. To go new places, meet new people.
I wasn’t always able to do that a lot. I didn’t have a lot when I grew up. My family is weird on a few different levels (it’s a long series of stories, basically a compendium of tales), and I come from very lowbrow lineage for several generations. It is what it is.
But interestingly, my life was also very unstable when I was young, so I was shifted around a bit for negative reasons as well, in addition to the voluntary forays that I probably would have taken more of anyway, if I’d had the means to do so.
Anyway, because of this past — whether you call it wanderlust, instability, or a mix of both — I’ve grown up to be a complicated person. Sometimes, frankly, I seem like a mess of contradictions. When I finally did manage to graduate from college as an older nontraditional student, I was an English/Psychology double major and minored in psycholinguistics. People will find out that I’m a writer and an English major and start apologizing for their grammar.
Well, joke’s on them, I think prescriptive grammar is a scam. So long as we can understand each other, I don’t care if what you said is “proper.” And if I can’t understand you, I’ll ask. It’s not hard.
But there’s this idea that English majors are mean about other people’s grammar. And I get why. They usually are.
That’s a pretty simple example, however. A straightforward one. Here’s one that’s heavier: I’m not rich by any means (hello, I’m a writer? it’s hard to make any sort of living doing this, even if you work hard and you’re good at it). But I find myself in these situations now (because of my large network of friends I’ve built over the years) where I’m around people who grew up upper class or upper middle class. And they assume I did as well. Since we know each other, and I don’t seem like the “other” to them.
And those conversations are so confusing. Sometimes I get really offended, because they’ll think that not only is it okay to make fun of poor people around me, they presume I’ll join in on the fun and do it along with them.
Not realizing that I grew up in a poor area. And literally everyone I knew didn’t have much money when I was a kid. Or that I have been homeless and couch surfed. Or any of that.
They don’t realize I have these stunning moments where life is actually okay for two minutes, and I find myself crying because I’m so grateful that I have food to eat and a place to sleep.
No, they grew up with money. Always having it. With their parents just giving it to them. Their parents just giving them safe homes and food and even compliments or help.
And to them, people who didn’t get that are defective somehow. Deserved it. They have no idea that includes me, the person they think they like.
And at moments like those, I find myself wondering what it’s like to not only have only been one way but to have been so sheltered that you assume everyone is that way as well.