I don't remember exactly when this conversation took place (or even if it was 1 single conversation). Instead I remember being hurt and feeling insulted about the choices I'd made and I wasn't sure how to deal with it at the time.
On some Friday evening at the home of someone at the First Baptist Church college ministry at that time, somebody started a conversation about how boring Prescott, Arizona was and how much they couldn't stand Prescott, Yavapai College, or even Arizona.
I never took issue with what was said, but somebody else mentioned that I moved to Prescott willingly, to live with my grandparents so that I could gain residency and eventually move to Northern Arizona University. Upon hearing my situation, one of the main antagonists in the room expressed disbelief, harping me to explain, "How could you even KNOW about Yavapai College?"
The conversation took a nose dive from there. They knew from knowing me that I was very intelligent, and naturally they suddenly assumed Yavapai College was beneath me. Most of the people in the room attended either Yavapai Community College or Embry Riddle Aeronautical University.
While all friends, most were either stereotypical "pilot types," sporting cheesy crew cuts and tearing around in red Camaros from California, or "redneck" types" who had a gunrack in their AZ plated Ford pickups. We socialized together at First Baptist Church, but often pilots would congregate to chat about 'touch-and-go's' while the others would gripe about how much they didn't like their hometown: Prescott. With my dopey naivete, obsession with rock climbing, and Tennessee plates on my plastic-sided Saturn and a sage-like grandfather everyone knew, I didn't fit either mold very well. I understandably often felt out of place with the group.
And while I was confident in my choices, and explained how I had a good plan and a good reason to be there, many of them (Prescott natives mostly) couldn't understand why I would come all the way to Prescott. I'm wishing I'd given a more impassioned defense of my choices and my chosen home. It got me down that they didn't like it there and made me wonder about things I'd previously thought were good. I was happy there. Why couldn't they be happy for me? I enjoyed the beautiful surroundings and the screaming good deal on a good education I recieved there. Why couldn't they appreciate how good they had it too?
Thinking back now, I realize there are a lot of class undertones going on in Prescott. I'm reluctant to say it, but Prescott is basically a former cow-town turned glorified retirement community for rich folks. Like a lot of small towns with abnormally high real-estate prices, the retired rich folks are more or less served by a working poor underclass, and there's a lot of resentment among locals and natives (who often take for granted the good things about the area).
I didn't really fit the schema of their little model of the world in many ways. The pilots didn't get me because they were often so wealthy and couldn't figure why I'd come out there, but I wasn't one of the working class local yokels either, who'd come from far and wide and specifically chosen what they saw as their only option in life.
|From Northern Arizona, 2000-2001|