Today was the last day of the Virginia Art Education Association conference. At the awards breakfast this morning, I sat with a guy with whom I went through high school and art school. We see each other every five or six years at these events.
Coming from a small town in which everyone waves to you in the car and speaks to you on the street, we both have this need to connect with people. Living in the suburbs of large cities now the need to connect with everyone feels like more of a freakish quirk than a quaint habit. Ty said that his wife told him he was going to wear himself out trying to say hello to everyone he meets. In our home town you wave or smile at everyone you see, whether you know them or not. In a city, you get suspicious stares when you do that, if you get looked at at all. After living in the DC suburbs for seven years now, I know better than to expect strangers to nod and smile at me. It does take conscious effort on my part however, and I admit that I find it depressing sometimes. At a school I taught at prior to my current one, some of my coworkers wouldn't even smile and say "hello." I really hated that.
It was nice talking to my friend though. It reminded me that the need to connect isn't a personality defect, but just the way we were brought up. It's really the thing I miss most about home.