Ex1: Misunderstandings

Open Source = Communism
Open Source = Communism (Photo credit: DavidErickson)

See ya later…

By Elizabeth Cutright

© 2012 The Daily Creative Writer

Let me start right off by admitting that I was one of those earnest and annoying 18 year-olds with just enough information about the world to feel self righteous in my beliefs and political affiliations.  I was a member of Greenpeace.  And Amnesty International.  And the ACLU.  And so on.

As you might imagine, these lefty-liberal leanings were not entirely welcome in my small, redneck-heavy home town where pickup trucks and cows outnumbered stoplights.  (Imagine the original Footloose, but with dancing and drinking….primarily in the back of  pickup trucks, surrounded by cows.)  As such,  a wanna-be “New Waver” with too much eyeliner and too many Depeche Mode albums (not really, you can never have too much Depeche Mode) tended to stand out…and not always in a good way.  But for the most part, the ribbing I received at hands of friends and frenemies was mild and good natured.  There were no bricks coming through the window or angry townspeople with pitchforks anxious to chase me out of town.

In fact, some of my closest friends were Reagan-loving republicans, complete with cowboy hats, hunting rifles and personalized license plates.  These guys loved basketball, baseball, beer and top 40 (and dancing in the back of pickups surrounded by cows), but somehow we managed to get along and actually revel in each other’s company.  And if every now and then I got teased for being a card-carying liberal or feminazi or some such, I laughed it off and gave as good as I got.

Perhaps anticipating the end of an era – Bill Clinton’s ascension to the presidency began my first year of college – the summer after my senior year of high school, the teasing got a little more fierce.  Picking a liberal college and an even more liberal major didn’t help.  Suddenly I went from the token democrat to scary socialist.  Looking back, it’s easy to see that the tension was most likely due to the changing tides waiting for us on the horizon, bringing with them new schools, new friends and a new understanding of the places and people we called “home.”

We greeted the last week of summer vacation with a keg, rum-and-cokes, and a raucous, girls-vs-boys game of quarters.  Things got heated.  Things got funny.  And the competition was fierce.  In the end, I can’t remember who won, but I do remember waking up to a set of nearly indecipherable “rules” (written in pencil on the back of a brown paper bag) tacked to the fridge and a kitchen floor sticky with a viscous coating of rum, coke and beer foam.  I also remember the parting shot made by one of my republican friends as he called it a night.

“See ya later, commie.”

For some reason, that comment stuck in my craw.  Commie?  How dare he call me a commie?  I was mad.  I was fuming.  I decided it was a sign – I was done with this place and these people!  I was going to college and surround myself with intellectuals and artists!  I was going to change the world.

The best laid plans, right?  About two weeks into my freshman year of college, I broke my ankle and was bedroom bound for the remainder of the quarter.  There was some doubt as to whether I’d be able to even finish out the year (I did).  For weeks I limped around on crutches and read old books and waited to heal.  And those small town friends I was so sure I’d outgrown? They stopped by, they called, they sent cards and they demonstrated just how lucky I’d been to grow up in a small, intertwined and ultimately supportive rural community.

And the friend that called me a “commie?”  Turns out he wasn’t calling me out for being a “red”, he’d simply said “See ya later.  Call me.”

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