Old people are so cute, aren’t they? They just ask what they want to know and make no apologies for it. For instance, last night I went to a birthday party and I was sitting next to a bunch of old ladies when one turned to me and said, “I don’t know you. Who are you?”
And since it’s Podunk, I had the standard reply. Oh, you know me. I used to be a Smith. My mother was a Jones. She married my Dad whose parents were Smythes. Totally different from the Smith’s. The Smith’s are from Podunk 1 across the river and the Smythes hail from Podunk 2 over the hill. No, my parents are not third cousins….though 2 of my third cousins did marry each other on my mom’s side. Now do you know me?
Yes, of course, she says.
And then I get the question that I get every time someone in town realizes who I am.
How do your parents like their new house? What was it like to lose everything in an instant to a flood?
I answer and say they are doing great and have moved on and thank them for their concern. It’s a small town and people genuinely care and wonder and in general people are humans so they are just curious. It’s a story. It’s big news. It’s gossip. It’s a big deal in a small town and I don’t mind one bit that they ask. It’s comforting knowing everyone knows what happened. After all, the town came out in a big way when the flood came. They are a good portion of the reason why my mom and dad are okay today.
So anyway – afterwards it got me thinking about labels. About how our names sometimes completely get lost to a label. I don’t think that old woman has any idea what my name is. To her I’m “the girl with the parents who lost their home in a flood”.
That’s totally okay by me. I mean that is a huge part of my identity and my past and even my future. It’s just interesting.
Take for instance, my neighbor who just had a baby. She quit her job before the baby was born and figured out her and husband’s finances enough to know they could get by if she became a stay at home mom. It’s what she wanted.
Until the baby came and her husband went back to work and she said she hates feeling like she has to ask permission to use their money since she’s not earning it anymore. She is not content staying home all day with the baby. It’s not enough. She cannot just be mom to baby P or wife to husband R. She said she needs more words attached to her identity. I told her to do what she needs to do. To each his own. She knows what’s best for her family….and so she’s setting out to find more “labels”.
Sometimes I get completely wrapped up in labels and identities. Do you ever do that? So much that sometimes I forget about the few labels that matter most. The mom, wife, sister, daughter labels that mean more than all the others.
But it’s just human nature and easy to forget who we are at our core and just be the labels and identities we’ve attached to ourselves – or that people have attached to us.
I mean being “the girl whose parents lost everything in a flood” doesn’t bother me. It’s a rare natural disaster and of course people want to talk about it. But there are other labels people attach to us that we hate. Like I’m guessing my little brother hates being labeled “the black sheep of the family”. I know my other brother hates being “the brother that hasn’t gotten married or had kids yet”.
I get to be “the mayor’s wife” – whether that carries a good or bad connotation. I’m the “woman that takes care of some community stuff”.
Or “the one that gets hives”. The “girl with all the landscaping” in town. The “woman married to that prison guard who rides the Harley.” The “woman whose husband is covered in tattoos.” The “daughter who never goes to church anymore.” The “girl who lives in Podunk.” The “blogger who thinks she’s a lizard.” The “girl who married her high school sweetheart.” The “girl who used to run 5 miles a night until she got lazy and chubby.” She is “Watermelon and Banana’s mom.”
There was a time when I was “the girl with the ginormous bahoobies”….so I chopped them off. Ha! Well, that’s not totally why but it’s probably part of the reason I had a breast reduction.
Labels can be powerful. They can be pretty broad or very specific. They’re all interesting. Some people fight all their lives to gain or keep a certain label and some people will fight all their life to get rid of a label. We self-impose some and some are just given to us by others.
It’s just interesting to me. How about you? Do you have labels for yourself or for others? Do you see the people under the labels or just the labels? Do you like your labels or are you trying to get rid of them? Do you want more or less?
Today my label is “girl who can’t wait for it to be Friday so the weekend can start!!” I’ve got football games, cookouts, museum trips and 3 whole days of sleeping in with “the man who is married to Draz” and I cannot wait!!!!