We’re here! We’re finally settled in the state of Maryland (where the car insurance is cheaper by 47%! WOOHOOO!!!!). Our apartment is a HUGE step up from the bug-infested-converted-garage we were renting on Long Island– all the of the appliances work and everything! No mold! Fresh paint! Ventilation in the bathrooms! HUZZAH!
So here we find ourselves, living south of the Mason-Dixon line for the first time in our lives, and it’s…different. We’ve only moved 250 miles from the Island, and we’d only been living THERE a few years anyway, but the differences in the culture is shocking to my nervous system.
The first thing that strikes me is the differences in the poverty……It is of a different variety than the NYC metro area. This poverty is rural– it’s trailers on 10’s of acres of farmland where the people hunt so that they can eat meat. It’s soldiers sending money home via Western Union on Friday afternoons. It’s children without food during the summer, because their families rely on free breakfasts and lunches at school, and they live too rurally to participate in the summer months. It’s actually the kind of poverty that The Auditor and I grew up around back home.
The second thing that strikes me is the racial tension. I lived my whole life in New York, the very southern tip of the New England region of the country. We tolerate just about anything up there– black, white, purple, gay, straight, rainbow, liberal, conservative, American, foreign, whatever. Particularly in NYC, just about anything goes, and to each his own and mostly we mind our own business and that’s that.
Since living here, I have overheard a group of white people in the supermarket talking about the problem with “Canadians” (which my aunt, who is a life long Maryland native, tells me is a code word for people of another race). In the same trip, I overheard an African American family speaking snidely about another ethnic group. Equally problematic, Little Scribbler and I were snubbed at the swimming pool when we tried to play with a little boy of another race. The family kept looking at me like I was a lunatic for even talking to them!
I wouldn’t call this racism at all– I would call it TENSION. People here seem wary of each other– mistrustful on all sides of the equation. Obviously this isn’t universally true of all Marylanders, and may just be a local issue, but it’s definately a head-scratcher for the Faithful Scribbler. I really do believe that racial tension of this palpability is pretty much dead in the Northeast– I certainly never experienced it in my 27 years in New York– but it seems not to be quite extinct in the Mid-Atlantic region. For the moment, I have decided the best thing to do is just plug along with a smile and a “hi, how are you?” for anybody we encounter.
(I’m not really sure I articulated what I really meant about the racial tension…it’s difficult for me to put it into words).
I will say that it is WONDERFUL to be a place where most people seem to be polite. A modicum of rudeness is perfectly socially acceptable on Long Island (rude New Yorkers and all, lol!). People there seemed to have felt entitled to say anything to anybody, so long as it was the truth. We got so used to substandard customer service in NYC, that I was actually shocked when the cashier at Target smiled brightly and asked me how my day was!
The Church is different too–there are some things I absolutely LOVE about our new parish, and some things I miss terribly about the parish we left. We found a great conservative parish here– the line for confession was about 40 people long on Saturday, and it wasn’t even Lent! :) The pastor and the parish seem to be “playing by the rules” in a very true sense of the word. Many people in the congregation did not join the communion line– presumably because they hadn’t confessed recently (I know that’s why I didnt join at least!) The confession line was so long that not everybody had a chance to even recieve the sacrament prior to the mass starting– and the preist just kept on hearing confessions through the entire mass.
In the parish we came from, as is the case in much of New York, people tend to believe (albeit falsely) that a once yearly confession is all that is required to recieve communion, which is not the case at all. We are to go at LEAST once a year, but certainly to go prior to recieving the Eucharist if we’ve committed mortal sin.
There is also a formal “School of Religion” here– basically, a Sunday School– in addition to the Catholic parish school. During the school year, young children have the option of going down into a conference room for part of the Mass, where they have a Bible lesson that is age-appropriate, based upon the Gospel reading of the week. I grew up attending these, and they are WONDERFUL for wiggly little gigglers like the Faithful Scribbler! They get to learn about Jesus, and stretch their legs a bit, and still come back in time for the Eucharist part of the mass.
What I miss are the ministries. The parish we came from had so many ministries I couldn’t even list them all. There seem to be SOME ministries here, although, in a smaller community, not nearly as many. We’re hoping that once September rolls around t hings will pick up and we’ll have a chance to jump in and get involved.
I think the Auditor and I (definately me anyway) have sort of lost our way these past two months, as we’ve prepared and executed this major life change. God stopped being the focus of our daily lives, and we got wrapped up in the tedium of moving. I havent opened a Bible in about five weeks now. We’ve been sniping at each other like crazy, and neither of us have the patience with Little Scribbler that we usually do. We need to refocus, and now that we’re settled, we’ve resolved to do just that!
We’re still searching for a Bible study, and the Auditor is searching for a mens group. We have plans to start reading the Bible again as a family, and to make more of an effort to teach LS about Jesus. I’m ashamed to admit that I don’t think she knows who He is (although she knows a lot about God the Father).
Resolutions as follows:
1. Read the Bible every day.
2. Find a formal Bible study.
3. Teach Little Scribbler about Jesus.
4. Pray every day, as a family.
5. Lost 20 pounds
(wait, how did that last one get in there?!)
Anywho, I’m back! You know you missed me :)