Transient

So, lately I’ve been hooked on a show called “Treme” on HBO.  I have a certain affinity to New Orleans-in fact, I was married on the Rue Toulouse at the Maison Dupuy on the SAME DAY that the mayor was married.  My father and brother had to contend with drunken revelers convinced I was the mayor’s bride as my horse-drawn carriage led me through the Quarter.

Anyway, being a Yankee from a North East Coast/Midwest town, you wonder how I would find parallel between my upbringing and that of NOLA??

I’ve often wondered myself, what led me to such a different location for my wedding.  And, now, watching “Treme” I see the similarities between that and my community in Pittsburgh, PA.

Many cities have a transient culture, everyone deviates towards them (New York, San Francisco, LA, London), yet noone is actually from these cites.  Here in San Francisco, you are lucky to encounter someone who’s mother and father hail from the city, let alone their great-great grandparents.

Much like New Orleans, the city I came from has established roots-buildings dated from the 1700’s (the college I attended was established in 1787 and the Cathedral of Learning built then stands onto this day).  And, the culture reflects that.  Families who go back generations, sometimes centuries, call these cities home.  My own great-great grandparents came through Ellis Island to Pittsburgh, PA to establish a life for themselves.  And, they established a family name for all of us that followed.  Being German/Irish-my relatives were firemen, policemen, carpenters, and other blue-collar laborers.  And, even now, when I return home, my family name is recognized.

God forbid I get pulled over or caught in anyway that will disrespect my family.

Even now, 6 years after leaving, my ass is on the line if I get too drunk, kiss the wrong boy, say the wrong thing to an old person.  By the time I drive home, my father will receive a phone call and ream me out like I’m 15 again. Much what like I watch in “Treme” where everyone knows each others’ business, everyone is a little too nosy and invested in each other. But…..

And, as much as I hate it, I respect it.

Now, I live in San Francisco-amazing city, gorgeous nature, open culture. 

And, here the culture is more transient which is defined by Wikipedia as “the state of being short or short lived.  Impermancnce.”

So, while I enjoy the acceptance, the openness, the hedonistic culture of this fine, gorgeous city-I have to mourn the loss of permanence.

And, I notice so many cultures reaching out to “build community” which seems like an honorable goal,  And, I seek that same goal especially considering that at a very young age, I was already immersed in a community, without even realizing it.

I already had a culture of people, generations old, who knew my name-understood my history-kept me in line when I wasn’t acting in accord with the blue-collar German/Irish immigrants who brought me here.

Similar to my Burning Man tribe who expect hard work and dedication in exchange for the wonder and beauty that is displayed on the Playa.  These wonderful beings have my back and I depend on them as a mirror to reflect on how I’m living my life.  Luckily, they aren’t afraid to tell me when I’m out of line or when I’m not getting what I deserve out of my relationships.  They see me in the very best light and want me to live up to it.

And, just like the characters in “Treme”:  who support each other, lift each other up, call each other out-I listen to those voices who know my history and background and who hold me to a higher standard.

And, that permanence mixed with the openness of San Francisco has been a beautiful thing.

2 thoughts on “Transient

  1. Similar to growing up in Tennessee. I definitely miss that living in California where not only does no one know my name but they go out of their way in the streets, stores, on the buses to actively avoid having to interact with one another.

  2. I was just talking to a woman from New Orleans yesterday about some of this same stuff, particularly how, in her experience, people come to New Orleans wanting to experience the “real” N.O. culture but then don’t respect it. She was specifically talking about the family culture here, about how you respect the elders and respect the traditions, and about how visitors she’s shown around have walked all over other peoples’ families and cultures, thinking that they’re “backwards.” Growing up in the bay area with transient parents (from Detroit), I never knew this type of close-knit, up-in-yo-business community. I kinda wish I had.

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