Thursday, June 21, 2007

Adventures in the field, Installment #3

Okay, folks, since Sheri seems to like these entries, I will do a final entry. Tonight marks my last day in city #2 and the end of the field trip. (I have one more planned for this summer.)

Because I finished up my research here earlier than expected, I am going to try to fly standby on the earliest morning flight tomorrow (circa 7am). As this is a larger city with the corresponding busy airport, I gotta get up early, check out, get the rental car from the (required) valet parking, drive to the airport, drop off the rental car, check the bag, get through the screening process, and get to the gate all before 6:40. All of this necessitates an early morning for me! Even earlier, as this is a different time zone. (I know you parents are giggling at my late sleeping self, but I am SO not a morning person!) So, wish me well. I am already packed and ready for my early morning mobilization.

My time here in Southern city #2 has been pretty great. I really got the Southern vibe during this trip: everyone greeting me and beginning conversations in that easy Southern way, things moving a little more slowly and graciously, and a warmth that I miss in the Midwest. When I got my car yesterday at the airport, a wonderful woman, who I believe was a lesbian, hooked me up with a pretty cool-looking little car (Dodge Caliber) and a portable GPS system. The car drives fairly well, got good gas mileage, and looks so different that I never had trouble finding it in the parking lot. And it was this lovely blue, not the ugly white of the other potential cars. The GPS has been very helpful getting around.

When I arrived at the hotel, they had prepared the room by bringing in a bucket of fresh ice. That was the nicest surprise I could have imagined, since I had picked up a soda at the airport. I sank into the chaise in the room, sipped my soda, prepped for this morning, and fell asleep early.

Today, I did my interviews, though some of the folks were hard to reach. But I feel happy and think I got what I needed. I spent an outrageous sum of money in a bookstore, buying presents for the gf, friends, and myself (of course). Also, as promised, I did get to visit the archive of the famous lesbian and even see the boxes labeled with her name. (I asked to take a pic of the boxes, but the archive people said no.) I met some wonderful folks here and enjoyed myself immensely! I also got to spend some time with people from a different racial culture and be in the minority myself. It was wonderful. I miss that in my current campus home.

One thing that was weird for me was having that minority experience as a middle-aged person. I grew up in a very diverse community, so I have had the minority experience a lot as a child, teenager, and young adult. But I have not been the only white girl in a room for more than 6 years, probably, and it has certainly been even longer since I was the only white girl in a room of perhaps 300. Yet, it felt quite familiar and even somewhat reassuring. But I did keep thinking, "Wow, they see me as some older white person." Weird.

But the best part of today was dinner with my friend. She just moved to City #2, which she loves. We had a great meal with spirited conversation and a good deal of laughter, followed by a walk. It was a wonderful way to end my visit.

So, if you are up at 5:30am, think of me! And we will resume our regularly scheduled blogging...

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