My dad and Marcus both misunderstood a blog I wrote about six weeks ago called “wherein I go out on a limb and suggest we’re happy.” Comparing the lifestyle my mom and I are living now to our cushier past, I concluded that altho our budget is smaller and our surroundings far less comfortable, we may actually enjoy life more now. Unfortunately they both read that to mean, “Buffalo is making us happy.”
After writing yesterday’s entry, on a similar vein, I realized that people may misunderstand me yet again.
Buffalo does not make us happy. My mom, brother and I experience happiness here because we work at it. One walks into the Met Museum, visits the fountain at the Seattle Center when it is lit at night, shares a pitcher of beer with old friends, or jogs a baby nephew on one’s knee, and experiences happiness without effort. Those activities are like running into a sprinkler of happiness. Living here is more like breaking down during a hailstorm: we have no choice but to keep walking.
Yesterday I had the most fun I’ve had with strangers since moving here, and it basically entailed sitting at a table for eight hours talking about Aerosole shoes and red hair dye with whomever happened to pass by. The blue pantsuits, bad hairstyles and non-ironic use of Crayola markers existed exactly as I feared. One of our volunteers betrayed visible facial tics and shouted at attendees as they entered the foyer, “Just tell me your name, I have to give you a folder!” According to my boss, she was a member of Buffalo’s “higher stratosphere.” Buffalo’s lower stratosphere being the woman I passed on my way to the grocery store, who had cut the sleeves and legs of her denim pantsuit into long strips that waved around her upper arms and calves; or the elderly man who hollered at the malfunctioning payphone, “G**d**m dumb thing! Trying to BLOCK my COMMUNICATION!”
We live in a city mentioned frequently in articles about American poverty, dropout rates, and rust belt wastelands. We smile and laugh, not because of our location, but in spite of it. Chase ambition, seek approval, quest for the perfect pair of shoes, accuse me of sour grapes, all I’m saying is, our happiness is homegrown, hard, and as tangible as the blue flowers that have popped up in yards all over town. I hope you don’t get caught in a hailstorm, but if you do, think of us, stuck here from a combination of bad luck and questionable choices, toasting you with a can of Buffalo’s finest, and wishing you a safe, warm journey home.