My very first skydive.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Conversational Drought

Being an ardent Vermonter who loves her home state, you might expect this post to be about the destruction and losses we've sustained this past week. I've seen the pictures, watched the videos, heard first hand accounts from friends who lost a little and those who lost a lot. I've ruminated on the fact that a few days ago it would have only taken me 2 hours to get to my parents in the event of an emergency. The fastest route to them now is about 5 hours and I have to go further south before I can go north. But a whole post ? I can't do it-i just don't have the words.

Instead I'm writing about something only slightly less tragic-my social life.

I'm beginning my 4th year at Little Tiny Vermont College-and for the better part of the first 3 years I did four things-ate, slept, worked and completed grad school classes. To be honest, until recently I've been fine with my limited activities. When I moved back to Vermont in August of 2008 I had just left Philadelphia-a place that was too loud, dirty and crowded for me. I had also ended my relationship with a man I'll call Voldemort. ( Trust me, it fits.) Peace, quiet, the green mountains, my family and a chance to shake off a bad relationship were just what I needed.

Now I am starting to feel the effects of a life spent in my office, and mostly talking to 18-25 year-olds. I love my job, love working with young adults as they figure out who they are, and what they want to be when they grow up. But the other day one of my staff members read the Beloit College Mindset list for the Class of 2015 and one of the items referenced the fact that River Phoenix had been dead for 20 years. One of our students said "who is River Phoenix?" and I almost cried. And not because I am missing River Phoenix...but because it made me officially old. Old in the eyes of people I spend 90% of my time with...including my staff. We are such a tiny school with less than 65 full-time employees- most of who are married, with families and who don't actually live in Bennington. Even my professional staff members are under 25. They are smart, dynamic, talented and funny women, and we have great conversation but my efforts to connect with them have become more and more challenging. Case in point-last year we were sitting at the table in the caf and one woman jokingly made a reference to the line "Dingo ate my baby". I asked her if she had seen the movie. She looked at me somewhat perplexed and said "What movie?" I said that they line she just used was from A Cry in the Dark. She laughed and said she heard it on Saturday Night Live and thought it was a joke made up by the show. Not her fault-she was only 2 years old when the movie came out.

And just because it's funny-here's Elaine doing it on Seinfeld:


Having been insular for awhile now, I am faced with the daunting prospect of crawling out of this cocoon and finding people who understand my cultural references. I'm not even talking about dating-which is a whole other blog post I have no desire to write. I could just do with some adult conversation over a real bottle of red wine. The kind that costs more than $7.99.

I said to a friend that what I really need is an intellectual prostitute. I would pay good money for someone who listened to NPR, read the Journal or the Times, was responsible for their own bills, and knew that "dingo ate my baby" was funny because of Meryl Streep. Someone who didn't make me feel like being 38 was truly ancient. (This was going to be hard enough to accomplish in Bennington as it was-but now that every major road in VT that went 'somewhere' is impassable, I will likely have to airlift in my scholastic escort.)

It doesn't help that I'm not exactly a social barfly. Butterfly...barfly-whatever. Either way-I know I gotta use my wings if I'm going to find what I'm looking for.

So if the next time you see me, I corner you to discuss some seemingly random, slightly esoteric topic, just humor me and say "Can you believe River Phoenix has been dead for 20 years?"

And if you quote Stand By Me, I will probably buy you a nice bottle of red wine.

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