Shake the Dust

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Oct 09 2013

Where Men Wear Skinny Jeans

It cost me both of my personal days but I’m on an American Airlines flight 30 something thousand feet above Arkansas with a flight attendant who looks strangely like Emma Stone offering me Dr. Pepper feeling simply awesome. The chance to blog, to sit quietly not talking about school, and splurge on a spontaneous trip to Banana Republic before my flight (thank you Chicago) has thrown me back into remembering what life can be like in a big city: men in skinny jeans, Chinese food, business women, art in public places, diversity. It’s stimulating. It’s overwhelming. It’s so not Arkansas.

I’m sitting next to this woman struggling with a Sudoku asking myself “Which is better?” And I answer, “Arkansas!” because I’ve committed myself to becoming infatuated with my new home but then confess “Well, Chicago” because its a real life place with real life adults who interact with the real world. The question: opportunity for me or failed attempts at proving to kids that opportunity exists elsewhere?

Basically, as I sit here in seat 7B I’m wondering real life or the Delta?

Real life where things are rarely stagnant, where you can see a movie on a Friday night a play on Saturday and meet friends for brunch on Sunday. Real life where you can shop somewhere besides Walmart and don’t drive 35 minutes for fresh produce. Real life where people don’t constantly agonize over poverty, equity, privilege, race, and class. It’s out there, I saw it this weekend.

I saw it when I walked off the Blue Line with friends from college and no one wanted to talk about the homeless people sleeping under the overpass. I heard it when a new acquaintance shamed a man on the streets for asking for money. I felt it when I realized 36 of the 37 people I spent this weekend with at a conference were white. People don’t constantly agonize over poverty, equity, privilege, race, and class. I had forgotten.

I forgot because I live in the Delta where poverty slaps you in the face and things are often very much black and white. I forgot because 36 kids in the Arkansas Delta hold my heart.

Which is better? Ask me tomorrow morning when my kids are crazy from two days with a sub and I’m sure I’ll say Chicago. I’ll be begging for real life. Ask me again tomorrow night when I’m falling asleep and completely satisfied with doing something fulfilling and I’ll say Arkansas. I’ll be planning a future in the Delta. But ask me any other time and I’m not sure what I’ll say.

Real life or the Delta: that is the question.

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    Arkansas, y'all.

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