I have a few best friends. A lot more than I ever imagined I'd have as I stared out the window after a tantalizing day of homeschooling when I was 9.
One of them calls on a regular basis, seeing as how I sucketh at keeping in contact. And today she shared all the joys of being a car insurance sales woman and the things one comes across.
Like picking up the phone to a regular joe with the name of Bill Gates and wondering if you're dealing with a prank caller. Reigning in the intense urge to ask the J.F. Kennedy if he's actually a zombie. You know the usual.
Today we mostly complained about the lack of community in America. Banks, particularly bank of America and the old credit union on our base in Japan.
But I'd rather share the talk about the lack of community in America because it's something close to my heart.
You see, when you're a group of Americans trapped on a little base in the middle of a different country without much knowledge of the indigenous people, traditions, and language you tend to stick together. Even the butt-much in the apartment below you who's called the SP's (airforce cops) on you three times that year for being noisy will give you some cookies and wish you a Merry Christmas. There's clubs and planned activities and it's quite simple to find out what's going on in the area. We have an actual operator! (no wai!) Everyone goes to the Club for Sunday lunch buffet and there's a lot of social interaction with one another. One neighbor helps the other out and we're all one big, slightly sitcom like, happy community. Sure we have drama and episodes that are clear nightmares from time to time. But that comes with being human and neither completely good nor completely evil.
Coming back to America was really hard because that help wasn't there. I couldn't count how many times some one had said "hey any time you need me, call" only to need them and call and they're too busy or they were out with friends or something. Which is cool, people have lives, so I waited for the 'so maybe in 3 hours' or 'tomorrow at noon I can take you to the bank' or something affirming that they actually meant the statement "any time you need me" and never got it.
My friend has lived in her apartment for nearly 4 months. Being used to the literal welcome wagon that comes by when one first arrives in base housing overseas she kind of expected the neighbors to drop by, introduce themselves, and tell her where they usually parked so that she wouldn't be upset when some one 'took her spot'. Nothing fancy. I remember getting cookies and some homemade breakfast bread when we moved in to base housing in Germany; but that's definitely not the norm from what I understand. In any case 4 months after moving in she finally met 2 of her neighbors and only after she initiated the contact.
Which leads me to believe that most Americans suffer from what I call the unshism.
Unshism is the part of myself that leads me to believe that: If that person wanted to talk to me they'd talk to me. I'm not going to bother them with possible unwanted contact. Instead I'll just sit here enjoying my miserable lonely because all my friends insist on being more than 20 hours away from me (I love you guys!).
Further proof of this has popped up from time to time as I've lived in the U.S. for over 2 years now. I know I can't believe it either. And with the exception of the fantastically awesome people I met in college I've made 3 friends. To me it almost doesn't really count as 3 because they're all related (this includes marriage and impending marriage) so in reality they should accumulate to 1.
These little examples are just that, little examples. Stories like this lead me to wonder many things.
Old people still have that community spirit that comes out of the wood works on overseas bases. Which means to me that something about my parent's Generation and the one before them changed the face of America and gave a large chunk of the populace Unshism.
*shrugs* Who can tell really.
I just know that I miss it and want it back. Even if I have to be 'that crazy lady who's always giving out tiny loaves of fruity bread' which will hopefully be accompanied by 'but I know I can ask her for a cup a sugar or a couple eggs any time'.
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