This morning I started reading a “food memoir” called Bento Box in the Heartland: My Japanese Girhood in Whitebread America by Linda Furiya. Furiya grew up just up the road from Madison in Versailles, Indiana. Ver-sales, not Ver-sie, thank you very much. Here in Indiana, towns may have the same names as French cities, but that doesn’t mean we have to pronounce them the same, does it? The Kentucky Versailles is also Ver-sales.
Look for a review of Furiya’s book here soon. I’m already loving it, including the recipes at the end of each chapter. Her opening chapter inspired this week’s Blog In Place question: Where’s a place that you’ve felt like you didn’t belong? Furiya begins with stories of being made fun of in elementary school and feeling weird about the rice balls her mother packs in her school lunch. This made me think about the moments when all of us have thought to ourselves, “Hmm, I don’t quite belong here.”
My first week of college in Jackson, Mississippi I definitely felt like I didn’t belong. Almost everyone was from Mississippi or a surrounding state, and one of the women on my dorm hall asked me if Kentucky was north of Texas. There was a whole lot of “y’all” going on, and everyone else’s hair was long, and mine was short. Eventually my friends concluded that I must have been raised in Russia to be as completely clueless as I was. But eventually, I learned to fit in, or at least not feel like I stuck out so much.
I’ve found that if you stay long enough in most places and make just a little bit of effort, eventually the feeling of not belonging goes away. Of course, unlike Furiya, I’ve never tried that out in a place where I was truly seen as the “Other.” Being a kind of Yankee (I was only from Kentucky, but in Mississippi, that seems pretty far north) in the deep South probably doesn’t count.
The place where I felt I didn’t belong for the longest period of time was, ironically, Indiana! I lived in Bloomington for 6 years while I got my Ph.D. at Indiana University, and I never felt particularly rooted to the place. In retrospect, Bloomington is a great town, but being a graduate student, as least for me, was miserable. I knew I wasn’t going to be in Bloomington forever, and that was part of the problem. I also had a long-standing abhorrence of everything Hoosier, having grown up in a neighboring state and college basketball rival. All the Kentucky jokes told by folks in Bloomington didn’t help. I guess looking back, parts of me didn’t really want to feel like I belonged in Bloomington.
Yes, I live in Indiana now, and I feel like I belong in Madison. But it’s so close to Kentucky it barely counts as being in Indiana.
So, where have you felt like you didn’t quite belong?
Blog In Place is a weekly meme hosted by You Think Too Much which asks bloggers to tell us about the places they live. Everyone is welcome to join. If you don’t have a blog, leave your answer in a comment or link. If you do have a blog, please link back to You Think Too Much on your own Blog In Place post and fill out the Linky List below.
Instructions for entering the Blog In Place blog hop:
1. Grab the code for the button:
2. Answer the following prompt on your blog: (Suggestions for future prompts? E-mail them to me at email@example.com)
Where have you felt like you didn’t quite belong?
3. Add your link to the Linky List below.