Saturday, November 15, 2008

Smile and Say "Hey"!

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.


Little Ol' Liz said...

I totally get it, but in a reverse sort of way. We travel every year from our 350,000 population to a place in Nebraska that's 600 people, tops. EVERYONE waves and smiles. It's the nicest place on earth, and worth every inch of the 8 hour drive to get there. It feeds our souls.
I have to believe in two things: the basic goodness of mankind, and that it takes a spark to start a fire. Maybe if you start saying hello in your neighborhood, it will make someone's day and they'll pay it forward.
I have to say, after putting two kids through a Public School education with a hack as an Art Teacher, it's so refreshing to see one actually doing ART. Your school and students are so lucky, and the artwrk from the conference is inspiring.

Jackie said...

Freakish Quirk?? I don't think so, and I'm glad you reconnected with your friend. I think blogging is a bit like a small town. You start seeing the same "faces" as you make the rounds and most of the time people do wave and at least say hello!

kingfish said...

That's why you should look into Facebook, and not think of it as MySpace 2.0. We've stayed connected with folks we had lost touch with from home and around the world. It's nice, clean, and best of all private. Anyway, end of sales pitch.