Yesterday I discovered that my high school alma mater had made national news...and not in a good way.
See it here.
I read it, shook my head, and slowly made my way to the comments section to see what all the naysayers thought about it. There was much naysaying to sort through (as there should have been.) Do I think this act was done maliciously? Absolutely not. Do I think this act was completely idiotic and avoidable? Absolutely, and that was my problem with it.
The Army lifestyle brings about people from all over the globe and scrambles them together into this very small microcosm of society. I can't count the number of times in our still very new Army adventure that I've been asked "So where are you from?" I always answer, "from the Dallas area." But I am always slightly embarrassed when the person who asked the question then responds, "Oh, me too! Whereabouts?" and I have to answer,"I'm from Mesquite."
I want to make one thing clear. I am not ashamed from where I come from. I loved everything about my childhood. I went to wonderful schools, had excellent teachers that made learning fun, and had unlimited opportunities at my fingertips. My parents worked hard to provide for us, and though I now know how little the expendable income was that they had to work with, I never EVER felt like I had to go without or that I missed out on anything.
So why be embarrassed, then? Well...
Mesquite is like the red-headed stepchild of the Dallas metroplex. It carries a horrible stigma with it. If you are from Mesquite, you are likely:
d. all of the above
FYI-The current exposure my high school has received did not do well to reverse this stigma.
I don't know why or how the stigma was acquired; but it's there. If you tell someone you are from Mesquite, (and they are not,) you almost always see this expression in their face like "Oh, I'm sorry" or "Gee, that's too bad." I have actually had someone say to me once, "Wow! You're from Mesquite? I never would have guessed that!" (And then I was sitting there wondering, "How do I respond to that? Do I say 'thank you?'")
But last night as I sat on the couch watching old Friends reruns on Nick at Nite, drinking a glass of white zin, and snacking on Tootsie Rolls, I realized how deeply rooted my hometown is in me...and how proud I am of it.
-I love my venacular and my Texas twang. I lived the majority of my childhood in the same house, but my daughter and son will be lucky to live three or four years in the same state, let alone school district. That being said, my girl has mastered the phrase "a whole 'nuther" and my son is working on a pretty cute rendention of "dag nabbit!" If I can give them the gift of a Texas birth certificate and a southern draw, then I have done well for them, by golly.
-I can eat jalepeno poppers with the best of them. I know what a good burger is because I've eaten a Country Burger. I know what a real buffalo chicken wrapper should taste like, because I know what a Sport's City is (sorry Cheddar's.) And everytime I hear a person with the names Martinez or Tino, I get a little hungry for queso.
-I can say "Sting 'em Skeeters" in all seriousness, and still consider the Texas University fight song to really belong to Mesquite High. I also know good football, because I grew up living and breathing high school football every Friday night.
-I know what a real pee-wee football and drillteam city program should look like, which is why I am sad that my children will probably never be in one.
-I am able to solicit with the best of them, because I had to hold carwashes and sell candy bars for EVERYTHING! This also makes me much more grateful now when people donate to causes...what a strange concept, that you don't have to do anything and people just give stuff to you :)
-I am one of the scrappiest people you'll know, because I had a heck of a time keeping up with the other (bigger, taller, stronger, more talented) athletes on the basketball, softball, volleyball, and track teams. I realized early on in my life that I was probably not going to be the best at anything, but that didn't mean I couldn't be really good at a lot of things--and that's what makes me keep pushing to better myself now.
-I can relate to a whole lot of different people, because our 5A school hosted a whole lot of different students. I love that I grew up all kinds of friends from all different backgrounds and walks of life.
So to conclude, I guess Mesquite isn't all that bad. Though I may try to hide under the cover of Dallas, I know my Mesquite roots are dug down deep. And that's okay, because truthfully, the next time someone asks where I'm from and I answer "Dallas, Texas" (and they are not from Texas,) they are probably going to assume that I am likely:
d. all of the above
Just kidding! People can assume whatever they want about me, so long as they don't put me in the same category as those freaks in Austin.
Just kidding again! ;)