I’ve talked before about a few cultural things I’ve encountered since moving to the South in another post. Those were the things I had observed after a short time in town. I’ve lived here for 8 months now and I’ve been trying to get to know people and make friends. You know, so that I’m not that sad, lonely lady with cats and kids who never leaves her house. Don’t want that to happen.
Any way, Lynchburg is a pretty conservative place. It’s home to the largest Christian college in the country. There are more churches than…well, than anything. As I’ve been told over and over again, it’s the buckle of the Bible belt. After I introduce myself to people, the 2nd thing they ask is what church I go to. The first is more of a statement; “You’re not from around here, are you?” When I tell them that I don’t go to church, they all start suggesting churches.
Hunting and weapons are also a big thing here. There are excusable absences built into the public schools during hunting season and students can have loaded weapon racks in their cars (parked on campus) so long as their guns are locked into the rack. My husband got his first bb gun at 4 and 10 when he got a black powder gun (or has he playfully calls it, “a modern musket”). My brother in law, J, (you remember him) hunts, though he is the type of hunter who uses every piece of what he kills.
Now, let me say that there is nothing wrong with being conservative or a Christian. I also don’t have anything personally against those who own guns or who hunt. That’s totally cool with me. Everyone has to make choices in how they’ll live their lives and I don’t care what you do as long as it doesn’t have a direct impact on me. I hate when people are all judgy about me, so I do my best not to be all judgy to other people. Got that? Cool. Disclaimer over.
This is where I start to get into trouble with the people of Lynchburg. In case you couldn’t tell by my previous posts, I’m pretty liberal. It’s damn near impossible to be the proud daughter of a hippie growing up in the Bay Area and be conservative. With pretty much every social issue, I have a distinctly left lean to my stance. I’m also not a Christian. Not because I “don’t know any better,” but because I decided I didn’t agree with it. My personal views are based on years of research and personal searching. I’m very comfortable with my beliefs and views. Oh, and I don’t hunt. Like ever. I don’t own a gun and never will. I’m anti-NRA, which to a southerner is like saying I’m anti oxygen. I was born a vegetarian, though I have since expanded to eat seafood, chicken, and turkey. I know how to shot a bow and arrow, but I’d never turn that on an animal.
Moving to a new town is hard. Making new friends in a new place can be really scary. Discovering that the fundamental beliefs of the people around you in your new hometown are the exact opposite of yours is…well, disheartening. In 8 months here, I haven’t really gotten to know many people. The facebook groups devoted to Lynchburg moms are all populated by very loud and proud conservative Christians. Makes for a lot of topics that I’m clearly not wanted in. Every time a new person joins the group, everyone makes church suggestions. That’s the social center of Lynchburg: church. I clearly don’t go to church and my kids are homeschooled, so I don’t meet anyone those ways. I asked if any of the many church goers in the group would be offended by me going to Bible study just to socialize. Basically, I was told that I was welcome, but that they would be trying to convert me the whole time. When I said I don’t need conversion, they started telling me that they would pray that I would find Jesus. Sigh. I then got private messages from 10 of the women in the group. They all started off with helpful suggestions about other places I could go to find social groups and questions about where I was from and why I’d moved to Lynchburg. From here, a few of them got a little mean. My husband grew up here and I was told that “he should have known you wouldn’t fit in here.” I even got a few suggestions that I move to a different town. Yeah, that’s exactly what someone wants to hear when they’ve just put themselves out there to try and find some friends.
I did go on a “Mom’s Night Out” with a few women who seem pretty nice. I’m still the weird one among them, but they don’t make me feel like crap for it. We’ll see where that goes. I also met a really nice woman at a babywearing meet up who reminds me of my dear friend, Robyn, over at Holding to the Ground. She seems pretty awesome so far. So the quest for new friends here continues.