City life has been stressing me the fuck out lately. Vegas is also a very interesting city in that it isn't like other cities. It's much more transient, so you tend to run into some interesting characters, and you also tend to be more tolerant of strangers... At least, that's kind of the way I feel, it might just be me, I may be unique in that disposition. For good or for ill, I find it's easier to ignore people you come across because the likelihood (or probability) that you'll ever run into that same person again is dramatically reduced by the fact that people tend not to stay in Vegas for very long. You can always look forward to the next random asshole that will cross your path.
This past weekend I came back from the store and there was a drunk guy leaned up against the wall to my backyard. I let it go at first. He wasn't dangerous or anything, clearly just fucked up, drunk or on some type of drugs (possibly both). Eleven A.M. on a Sunday, completely blitzed. He looked like he might have worked at a mechanic's shop or something, young guy, clearly lost. I've been there, so I was annoyed and not angry. After pulling my truck in my driveway and while walking up to my front door, out of the corner of my eye, I thought I saw him on his phone so I figured he was just waiting for a ride or something. I had some stuff to clean out of my garage and load up in my truck, so I went inside and opened the garage door to my driveway, and I was going back and forth when I caught him leaning up against my gate like he was going to take a piss.
"HEY! What are you doing?!? NO! Man, alright, you gotta leave this is private property!"
Completely lost in his own body.
"Are you okay man?"
"You got someplace to be?"
"Well you better fucking get there soon and get the fuck off my property before I call the cops!"
Technically he did get off my property, but proceeded to just pace aimlessly on the public sidewalk in front of my house. This went on for a good 15-30 minutes. He was like a kid hovering his finger over my face;
I'm not touching you! I'm not touching you! I'm not touching you!
So when he did step back on to my property that's when I got loud so he knew I was serious about the fact that he needed to leave. I was uncomfortable leaving my house to go where I needed to be and handle my Sunday plans with some random drunk stranger just loitering on my porch. Was he going to try and piss on my dog through the fence the leads to my back yard? Was he going to shit on my front lawn or in my driveway?? Who knows... Once the decibel and intention of my voice cut through the fog of alcohol clouding his brain, he did move along down the road. And, it's also possible he wasn't a native English speaker. There are at least a couple of neighbors I have who I probably wouldn't be able to carry on a conversation with, either due to my lack of Spanish or their limited English.
I circled around in the neighborhood in my truck to make sure he was going to continue to move along and out of our neighborhood. God forbid he caused a problem for anyone else who might not be as patient as I am.
I don't know why he was there, or what he was even doing. In any case, the whole matter was relatively benign, probably some karma coming back to me from when I was younger. An annoyance to remind me of how I was once an inconsiderate young asshole when I would have a little too much to drink back then. He'll find his way, and if I ever cross his path while he's sober I'll shake his hand. Cooler heads prevail.
The reason I even wanted to tell this story are two incidences I heard about just recently, people rightfully defending their homes and their property, but being entirely too aggressive and using excessive force to do so. One was a story about an old man who shot a kid that rang the wrong door bell, the other was about a woman pulling into the wrong driveway and being shot by the owner.
Would I have been justified in grabbing my gun? Possibly. Was it necessary? Not in the least! My life wasn't threatened, my property wasn't being taken, my home wasn't being vandalized. Etc. Etc. Etc. I certainly wouldn't have been justified in shooting him.
In my own personal estimation--devoid from any real statistics and fueled entirely by anecdote of my own experiences--the majority of America consists of small towns that dot the landscape. Small to medium gatherings of people and communities that are held together by loose approximations of the pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness. People who dream and build, and in their own way try to do right by the next generation. They get by with simple lives and honest aspirations, and there's something about that which appeals to me.
My wife doesn't have the same relationship that I do with rural Americana, she's only ever lived in Vegas and has only ever experienced that pace of life, a pace consumed by material endeavors. That isn't to say that she's materialistic, we wouldn't be married if she were. But, my parents moved around a lot and hers didn't. We lived in upstate New York for a time, and in western Iowa on the border with Nebraska just east of the Missouri river, and I got to be friends with the sons and daughters of farmers and the like. I suppose it helped that my parents were from there. My Mother was born in Eaton and my Father was from Council Bluffs. My tenure in Las Vegas is the result of the necessity of opportunity. Small towns don't always provide occupational benefits; this is something that has been true since the dawn of western civilization, the call of the urban experience is one fraught with the necessities of existence mixed with delusions of grandeur...
The 18th of April is Skyler and I's wedding anniversary. We always try to go somewhere or do something. Get out of the house or out of town for the week or a weekend. Fortunately I was able to take some time off work, and even more fortunately Skyler was willing to go somewhere quiet.
Brian Head, Utah was not some place that I had on a list of places I wanted to go see or visit before I died, nor did I anticipate that it would be so rural, or for the adjacent town of Parowan to be so much like Mayberry... Or, for that matter, for Parowan to remind me of Hamilton and Morrisville, New York, or Council Bluffs, Iowa. These are the types of places I hated when I was younger. They didn't offer the things I thought were important about our existence on this plane, but they are the types of places I enjoy as an adult who has grown tired of the... The dream for me these days is to find a way to enjoy the same level of financial comfort I have working in the big city, but do it somewhere my neighbors actually know my name.
Sure, there are plenty of issues with living in a small town; people tend to gossip because there's nothing much better to do on a quiet Saturday evening when the town isn't hosting some sort of community event, and the differences between Catholic, Methodist, and LDS are too strong of a dividing line for most folks who aren't comfortable with challenging their own faith. But on the whole those problems don't really come close to the dangerous anonymity of urban populations beyond a few tens of thousands of people. Something happens when the density of humans grows beyond a certain point. We loose all sense of basic decency toward one another in favor of rote platitudes that barely hide the animosity of our caged primate instincts. Most are able to keep it together, or disassociate well enough with prescription anti-depressants or self-medication, but a small percentage crack and break, they aren't able to function as mediums for the methods of commerce that aggrandize ever increasingly sophisticated levels of civilization.
Maybe I'm just tired of being used? Maybe I just don't agree with the direction things are going? I feel like in a small town you have more command over your existence. And maybe that's precisely what drives people to move away from small towns, the sense of control leads you to take advantage of opportunities when they come without always thinking them through or even thinking about where they may take you. There's something to be said about the immediacy of living in the present, I'd say it's easier to find that center when the pace of life is slower. Surely there are ways to focus that type of an energy, and to manually slow down the pace of your life no matter where you reside.
The first rule is that the ALL IS MIND. We are creators.
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