Friday, January 18, 2013

Outside the Bubble

I'm going to be making a broad statement about people I see on a daily basis and the assumptions they make about my life. Quite frankly it's frustrating being made to feel like I'm this terrible person for the decisions I've made, not that they're even bad ones! Understanding that, you should just stop reading now. I'm an outcast. I might as well have leprosy. Stop following my blog. Don't bother trying to get in touch with me. I'm going to the far corners of the Earth so you never have to see me again.

Why do I say such things you ask? Because I married a New Yorker, obviously.

Let me break this down. I grew up in a small Italian town. I've tried to leave, but somehow ended back here. 'Never say never' as my mother constantly reminds me. I married Nick whom I met in college. He's from New York, where I (surprise surprise) went to college. Sure, living in New York wasn't out of the question, but job opportunities brought us to Jersey.

Here's the problem with this little Italian town of mine...no one leaves. Ever. It's like a black hole. You get sucked in and can't get out. Then to make matters worse the old timers of this town are extremely judgmental of "outsiders"; anyone not from Hammonton or anyone not full blooded Italian. (Sidebar: You think I'm joking but I had an elderly gentlemen berate me when he asked if I couldn't have children would I be upset and I responded with no we could always adopt. He then yelled 'WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT AND RUIN YOUR BLOOD LINE? Seriously, this is my life right now).
And then to top it all off everyone knows (or thinks they know) everyone else's business.

Look I'm not knocking those who live and stay there. It is a great town with a lot of heritage and a nice community. My grandfather was born and raised there as were my parents and myself and siblings. My gripe is the failure of so many to realize that there's a whole great big world out there waiting to be explored. The world does not revolve around Hammonton I'm sorry to break it to you.

Here is a legitimate conversation I had on the phone with one of these older residents who had called our agency as a perspective client:

What's your name again deary?
Natalie.
And your last name?
Bruno
Which Bruno did you marry from town?
*playful laughter, I know where this is going* No my husband is from New York.
Oh, you're from New York?!
No, I'm from Hammonton, I work for family here. My husband is from New York.
Oh.  *Long pause.*
Well with that last name you'd never know you didn't marry someone from Hammonton.

End scene.

This is a conversation I have at least twice a month. If not more. I wish I could put into words the sound of that "oh". It's the kind of "oh" that suggests I should be ashamed of what I just told them. That I should feel guilty for my choices. It's like I've just disappointed my parents and there is nothing redeeming I can say after I've just made the previous statement.

Lately it has gotten worse because we made the decision to not buy a home in Hammonton. The newest "oh" is when they ask where I live. The leading question is "Where in Hammonton do you live?" of which I reply  "We don't." After they got over that initial shock it's onto where I live.  I literally moved 13.1 miles (just a simple half marathon) away from my parents and this community. The follow up questions I'm always asked are if I like it out there, why do I live so far away, and am I okay?

Yes, I actually love it out here. I'm 10 minutes from any major store (Target, Loews, the movie theater) and there's a lot more to do. I live in a great neighborhood with the nicest neighbors and I'M FINE.

Alas, I cannot tell these clients how I truly feel (stop judging me I promise I didn't marry an alien and move to Mars!) I just smile and nod and let them react how they will. I'm comfortable with who I am and who I married. Doing business with me just because my last name is that of an 'outsider' does not mean you're getting any less service. Trust me.

As I said at the beginning it's just incredibly frustrating to have this same conversation all the time. I love traveling and seeing the world. And when people judge me for decisions I make like that I decided to move out of Hammonton and who I fell in love with because my square peg doesn't fit in their circle cookie cutter minds, it's downright annoying.

But I'll continue to just sit here, smile plastered on my face, and try to not let their comments bother me.

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