For those of you who are unaware, my natal city, and where I spent the majority of my life until I was 28, is Spokane, WA.
This year, Worldcon took place in Spokane. I haven't been back to that city in....um.....many years. The only reason I had for going back was family, and now that I don't speak with my family, I have no reason to return.
A lot has changed. I arrived a day early so I could take a day to visit old haunts, etc. I didn't actually do that, though. The old Spokane fire placards are gone. They may be somewhere, but the ones I knew about are gone. I got so lost, as the landscape has changed so much, that I could not find the Garbage Goat or the Giant Butterfly. I thought it was by the Flour Mill, but I failed to find it. It may be gone, but teh intertubes says it is still there, so I probably am misremembering where it was. When I was a kid, it was just a frame. Originally it was draped in fabric, I believe. I know the goat is still there, I just couldn't find it.
Milliways is gone. When I lived in Spokane, there was a coffee shack called Milliways, that was on the ourskirts of town, on the west side. That boundary line changed so often, I found that name HILARIOUS. But alas, Milliways is no more. It is an ex coffee kiosk. It is not pining for the fjords. This made me sad, so I walked back to my hotel through Riverfront Park, and grabbed myself a fake banana flavored shave ice. That, at least, was still there.
The rest of the con was so smokey and I had such a hard time with breathing and my joints that I didn't bother to try finding anything else, or even really excursioning beyond con grounds.
But this has got me thinking. Spokane has changed...a lot. And so have I. I used to love that town. The reason I left was my divorce, and needing to get my head back on straight. Going back, I realize I have kind of outgrown it. Or at least the idea of it.
Spokane was once home. It was what I knew of the world. I used to think it had everything. That it was a giant multicultural microcosm of what the outside world was like.
Living in a different town, seeing what I have seen, having done what I have done, having met the people I have met.....all that has changed my view. My world view, what I am aware of, how I understand things....it has all broadened greatly in the last 13 years. I don't know if it is just that I have gotten older and I myself have matured. Or maybe it is the different mix of people and circumstances I have encountered. Or maybe it is the lack of safety net. Or maybe the lack of emotional toxicity in which I used to dwell when I lived there. Or maybe it is a mixture of all of the above.
Spokane now feels very restricting. I realize it may be the narrow world view of the people I used to have around me when I lived there. But I tend to feel that Spokane itself is narrow minded and judgemental. That is a town where people are easily ostracized. Where being different meant you were mentally deficient or a very bad person.
When I was a kid, Skinheads were everywhere in Spokane. The Hayden Lake Aryan Nations compound was not far, and as such anyone with a bald head and tattoos was seen as a scarey threat. As a kid, I saw some bad shit go down from those people...bald or full haired. I was raised in a very conservative part of town. We were taught by parents, teachers, etc, that anyone with a tattoo or a shaved head was bad and would hurt us. If we saw that we should run. And if we chose to alter our appearance in those respects, it meant that no matter what our actions were, we were bad people who didn't deserve to be part of society. Many a time I overheard adults saying things to the effect of "Poor Mrs. so-n-so. Her daughter has cut a star in the side of her hair. What a hooligan. You won't catch my child looking like that."
As an adult, I have learned better. I have several tatoos. My hair is bright blue, fading to a violet purple. I can just hear my mother's friends saying "Oh poor Eleanor's mom. What did she do wrong?" And I hear my mother, who otherwise didn't care about me, yelling at me for shaming her. This is an etirely imagined scenario, but one that played out in different forms over and over during my childhood.
That....that is what Spokane represents to me. And that is why it maybe feels a size or two too small now. Knee jerk reactions, judgemental ostracizing, caring what people think about you based on people you associate with......that has no place in my world anymore. I still struggle with removing that completely from my subconscious, but I am aware of the destructiveness of that kind of attitude. My self worth is not based on how people think of how I look, or what other people think about what I do for a living or how well I perform. And I work hard to not fall into the rut of pidgeon-holing people who seem to fit a particular pidgoen-hole. I work hard at not jumping to a negative conclusion when I see negative behavior. I have become very good at telling myself "it does not effect me in any way, why do I care?"
I still feel my world few is inadequate. It has expanded greatly, but I can't help but feel that world travelling, living in another city for a while, mixing with a new group of people, might help me expand it even more. Wasn't it Mark Twain who is reported to have said "World travel is fatal to prejudice"?
Well, enough of my rambling. Next post back to creative pursuits....