I flew home last Friday for Christmas, the day after it had snowed about fourteen inches there. The temperature barely rose above twenty degrees the entire week that I was there. So it was basically like being in Antarctica. But with a better cheese selection.
And at some point in the past twenty years, someone who lives on the street I grew up on--hopefully not my parents--must have made the county snowplow driver angry. Because while every other street in town is perfectly plowed, the plow driver consistently turns our street into an ice rink that Olympics officials should be studying as the perfect conditions for the 2014 figure skating competition.
As such, each time I even thought about stepping outside, my parents yelled "Be careful on the ice! Don't fall!" And I would roll my eyes and think "OMG, I will be fine." Except then I would start over-thinking it and visualizing myself falling on the ice and breaking my hip. And how on earth would I get around DC with a broken hip? Would I have to take one of the MetroAccess vans everywhere? And isn't the death rate on people who break their hips really high? Or is that just because elderly people are generally the ones who break their hips?
And with all of these thoughts racing through my head, I thought it would be safer to walk really slowly to the post office. So the walk that normally takes me five minutes took me about twenty. But I got there with my hip still intact.
The purpose of my walk to the post office was to mail a bunch of Christmas cards that should probably arrive around Valentine's Day to my international friends. I found myself standing in the small counter area in front of a pack of people as the Postmaster looked up the international mailing codes or something for each card. And then a man walked in. He had nothing to mail but instead just stopped in to greet everyone with Christmas wishes. He greeted every person by name with a little personal anecdote.
And then he got to me. And realized he had no clue who I was. Silence.
Once upon a time I knew everyone in this town and everyone knew me. It happens when you are the newspaper delivery girl for the whole town of 700 people and you waitress at a popular restaurant. But then I went to college. And then I moved to the East Coast. And when I do visit home now, I am pretty anti-social and only hang out with my mom, dad, and their dog. So I have been pretty much forgotten by most people in the town. They stare at me with maybe a hint of recognition in their face. But unless my mom or dad is standing next to me, no one can really piece together who I am. I feel like I have a super power of anonymity.
So I stood in the post office willing the postage meter to move a little faster while every one stared at me trying to figure out who I was.
My childhood dentist happened to be standing next to me. I thought about flashing him a smile, so he could be like "Oh, I recognize those incisors! How are you doing Rebecca?"
Except he would not call me Rebecca. He would call me Becky. I lead a life where up until I started college, I was called Becky. Not by my doing either. I blame a first grade teacher who could not handle having four Rebeccas in a class of 70 kids. So she assigned me with Becky to make her life easier and it stuck. It stuck all the way until college when I eased people into calling me Rebecca. And by the time I started grad school, it was always Rebecca and has always been Rebecca since. It is weird when people call me Becky when I am home. And I know it is just that that is what they know me by and that's fine but it definitely takes me more than a little time to realize they are talking to me.
I have been attending Mass my whole life yet nothing throws me off more than the holiday Masses where in addition to the Peace Be With You greeting pre-Communion, the priest throws in a little bonus greeting time at the beginning of Mass. That minute and a half of shaking the hands with the people around me is so dang stressful because I am never sure what I am supposed to say. And I am not very quick on my toes when it comes to talking.
"Merry Christ…" Wait am I allowed to say Merry Christmas? Isn't that un-PC now? Am I supposed to say Happy Holidays? Duh, Rebecca, you are at Christmas Eve Mass. I think you can say Merry Christmas.
"Peace be with…" Dammit! Wrong handshake time. And now I'm going to hell for thought-swearing during Mass. And it's probably a double sin for someone who doesn't out-loud swear ever.
"Heyyyyyy!" Well, that was not at all weird.
"..." I am just not going to say anything anymore. Shake a hand and move along.
And I had nearly completed the handshake 360 when I landed on the last person, the guy sitting behind me. Who shook my hand and said "It's nice to meet you."
I have known him since I was two years old.
What was I supposed to say now. So I went with the "Um, nice…meet…you…too." I am nothing if not completely eloquent with verbal communication.
And then I turned around, sat down, and contemplated the anxiety attack I was about to have over what had transpired in the past one and a half minutes.
My mom and I after Mass. And after the anxiety attack had passed.
If you have never traveled to Northern Wisconsin (and I would encourage you to do so only in the summer), you have never experienced the wonder that is the Green Bay airport. You can roll in about twenty minutes before your flight and still get through security. They will probably even hold the plane for you if you want to stop in the airport cheese shop and pick up some cheese curds. There are never any lines and the TSA agents get the trays ready for you and tell you not to rush. It is the most relaxing airport experience ever.
And so early in the morning on the day I flew back, I was checking my bags at the American Airlines counter. The counter agent was took my ID, looked at it, and said, "You look more like your sister in this picture than you look like you."
Well, there's a mind bending thought that is next to impossible to process at 5:45 in the morning.
Obviously, this person knew my sister. Except I have four sisters. So I stared at her. And then realized until she moved away a while ago, she and her husband were my parent's next door neighbors. She used to babysit me when I was little. She had not seen me or my parents in years. I called my parents over and right there in the Americans Airline ticket counter area there was a delightful reunion.
(And she's right, I actually do not look like me in my license photo. I look about 12 in the picture. I was 25 when the picture was taken. I am…not 25 anymore. And due to online renewals and my general avoidance of the DMV, I have this picture until 2015. When I definitely will still not be 25.)
Hope you all had a wonderful holiday break!