Good Riddance To Po Dunk
Date: Apr 25th, 2007 12:30:27 am - Subscribe
Mood: unstable

I still remember that last hour. I said “good-bye” to my family, posed for one last picture, and crossed the “Mighty” as I began my search for what I was determined to be my get-away from the brain-washing of young minds that had been known to take place for generation after generation down that desolate highway, which, to this day, serves merely as a vein to the heart of Po-dunk. “Why do you have to leave?” asked my oldest niece. “We don’t want you to leave!,” my youngest niece reminded me. My mother didn’t say much at all. She just kinda stood there with that look on her face. This look, in a way, comforted me on the decision I was about to make. It calmly told me, “I’ll miss you. I’ll see you soon. Make me proud.” A few years later I had received a copy of that picture via email. I printed it, and still have the copy to this day. I would return from time to time to see the ones that I had missed. And every time I would go back, my new, self-formed decisions regarding my own opinions would be stronger and stronger. The familiar forms in which I was reminded of my escape to a self-comfort within the choices I had made usually appeared in a disfigured form of racism, simple-minded ignorance, or even a bright display of abuse and neglect shown towards the land in which they live. Yet, I do go back to visit.
However, now when I go back, I am more quick to see the ideas and ways of thinking in which I strayed from. I now see that these ways of thinking, which contribute to our way of life, is something that we are socially surrounded with from birth. However, that doesn’t mean we are forced to accept it for the rest of our lives. I wanted to be in cleaner surroundings, where not littering is just rule of thumb. I needed to escape the sounds the rednecks make when they convey their ignorant racial slurs to people in which they don’t even know. And the racial slurs from African-Americans that came from people who were born into the misfortune of having to deal with the rednecks. The thought of sitting around the house 24/7 while shoving my face with grease was another idea I didn’t share. The Po-dunk region is overwhelmed with people who do their most exercise while eating. I needed to get out, so get out I did.
One of the more recent times visiting, I had made it to the general region in which I consider to be the outer boundaries of po-dunk. I remember merging into another lane, and noticing out of the corner of my eye, four very, very large men riding in a brown land yacht. They had obviously just come from the drive-thru window at Krystal’s (equivalent to White Castle), due to the fact that I could hear the rush of their caloric intake from all the way inside my car. As the front passenger was trying ever so hard to dominate every last of his fries (at the same time), he was also trying his best to keep up with the conversation he and the driver was having. The passenger’s efforts in conversing while eating resulted in the driver defending himself from french-fried projectiles. While this was happening, I was driving, thinking to myself, “This grease feast is exactly why there is an obesity problem down here. I wonder if they’ve seen Super-size Me?” About that time, as I was driving behind them, I noticed the driver roll down his window. Resembling debris in a tornado, I was soon surrounded by burger boxes, french fry boxes, and empty ketchup packets. I was disgustingly amazed at this time, due to the fact that I hadn’t seen someone throw litter from their vehicle since I had moved away. The fact of the matter is, the sides of the highways and local streets throughout Po-dunk are embedded with trash and litter. But I guess being away from it for a bit, and then coming back to witness this desecration, it was ridiculously “redneck”!
A different time visiting, I was going down a back-road, enjoying some herb, music, and lovely scenery that is produced there every year when the trees, which form a tunnel over the back-roads, start to turn to brilliant reds, yellows, and oranges. As I passed a small dirt pull-off, which farmers use to access their plots with their tractors, I noticed a small car, and a man on the far side of the car. I didn’t think anything of his presence as I proceeded to pass by. I then soon realized that I was going the wrong way down this back-road. I turned around, and proceeded past the fellow with the car. As I did, he was pulling out of the small dirt pull-off, revealing the more than half a dozen garbage bags that he had just dumped. This pissed me off to the point of tailing the guy until, finally, my surroundings started to look like a scene off of that movie “The Wrong Turn”, or “Deliverance”. I certainly did not want to be screaming like a pig, so I turned around. Again, I was shocked. If it had been no more than five years earlier, and I witnessed this, I might not have thought twice about it. I guess growing up and being accustomed to people who do these types of things will leave you blind to the consequences, and can quickly and easily dissolve any opinion you might try to form independently. Such an opinion might be the realization of the damage we are doing to the ground on which we work and play.
On yet a different visit, I was enjoying the river sites once with a man and his family. As we pulled up to the banks in his boat, he asked me if I would gather the trash from the boat, and carry the trash up to the trees and “toss it”. It amazed me how the thought of not being able to enjoy that day, due to dumb-ass’s littering up the pristine wilderness, had never crossed their minds. And two seconds into my attempt at allowing the family to understand the consequences of our pollution, I could tell that my effort affected noone. I’ve known this family for years, and they are good people. Down to Earth. Nevertheless, these are the times when I am back there visiting, and I am very easily reminded of the way of thinking that I declined in exchange for my own mental freedom, which led to a life-style that was not pre-determined by my cultural ancestry, social peer pressure, or even social status. Just pure decision derived straight from the conflicting events which my opinions are formed. Sure, I’m not on the list at the hottest club in Hollywood, but I never wanted to be like those ass-holes either!
Time spent on the choices I’ve made, the places I’ve been, the faces I’ve seen, and the places I’ll go again, has all led up to the dissolving of my socially perceived identity, which has resulted in a discovered self-comfort within a self-perceived identity which allows me to give two shits less about my socially-perceived identity. I prove this to myself every time I go back. People who knew me, no longer know me anymore, and people who meet me, instantly assume that I damn well I don’t agree with a majority of their outlooks on life. This is not because of their personal choices, which give them their opinions in which I disagree with. I can still have respect for people who get an idea, research the facts, then form an opinion. Instead, it is because most of them constantly ignore the opportunities that would allow them to expand their way of thinking beyond that of which they attain from being brought up in po-dunk America. The idea of “settling down” before you’ve ever taken the opportunity to “travel wide” is deeply implanted into the youth of Po-dunk. Girls want a baby before they grow up, and guys want full ownership of their pick-up, fishin’ rawd, and shawtgun. And as long as a fella can have that, and a little southern girl to consistently bring him a beer, he’s in redneck heaven. People tend to accept the labels they’re born into without question. And without consideration of different ideas. Be reminded, this my own personal Po-dunk stereo-type. Therefore, this doesn’t include everyone there. I personally know a lot of good people in Po-dunk, and wouldn’t trade their friendship for anything. I guess all in all, that place just isn’t for me.
So, the instant that camera flashed, I realized that the next time I was in town, I would be reminded of the decisions I made in order to have “ownership” of my identity. Me in that picture meant one less kid stuck inside of predetermined po-dunk. One less person to be blinded from a world of conflicting events in which to form opinions, which, in turn, support decisions we make that, when collaborated, display a personality. From time to time, I sit at my desk, which overlooks a significant amount of Open Space (where I am currently a Park Ranger at), and I look at this picture. I think about, and miss people and places from my past in Po-dunk, but am quit sure I made the right decision.

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