Blessed are those whose strength is in you, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage . . . They go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion.
~Psalm 84:5

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Random thoughts on Odessa

When I lived in Waco, I ran into a LOT of people who were shocked to hear that I really liked Waco. Then I told them I was from Odessa. And then they understood.

Just as a disclaimer to this post... I read an article about people who took their blog too far, didn't remain confidential enough, and ended up messing up their lives because they were venting stuff on their journal online. (They'd get fired after calling their boss horrible names online.) Which in a way could get me in trouble, but hopefully I've kept everything as general as possible... :"> At any rate, I do tend to vent about life out here in Hicksville USA quite a bit, but I assure you it is for my emotional well-being. :"> And hopefully as a friendly warning to you and for your entertainment as well.

So I wanted to write a little bit to balance the ventings. Over the years, I have grown to severely dislike Odessa, yes. But it isn't a 100% horrible place. There are some very nice people and unique sites and programs. But if you were to ever visit this town, I feel it only fair to give a heads-up.

I'm noticing that just about every city/town has its hangups. For example, one of Waco's problems is religious hypocrisy. Some Baylor students sleep in on Sunday mornings and then dress up when they go to lunch, to make everyone think they've gone to church. (I don't think I've actually met anyone who's done this, but I have heard stories. And they seem to match other situations I encountered in that town as well. :">)

I'm convinced that Odessa isn't really a town. It's a club. And nobody will teach me the secret handshake. There seems to be an invisible, unspoken set of rules and standards that most Odessans don't have a problem adhering to. But if you don't adhere them, and if you don't cross your T's and dot your I's in just the exactly correct manner, THEIR way, you'll get jumped on. Publicly criticized. Then you'll get looked at funny and talked about behind your back.

Personally, I think this is an issue that's developed over time as a coping mechanism for living out in the middle of nowhere. Your world has become the city limits, and any new-fandangled thing needs to pass inspection if it's going to be accepted.

I remember absorbing this mentality when I was in high school, although I didn't know what I was doing at the time. It was fun to gossip about people. Speculating about people you'd heard of but didn't really know became like a sport for me.

But now that I'm the outsider, it ain't so fun.

There are some very nice people in this town -- folks who'd give you the shirts off their backs if you needed them. The absolute coolest, sweetest people you'll ever meet anywhere. Then on the opposite end of the spectrum... there are some excessively horrible people in this town -- folks who'd grow claws and spew slime at you, if they could. The absolute ickiest, most connivingly manipulative bunch of folks you'd never imagine meeting in your worst nightmares.

What boggles my mind is that it seems to be the nice people who allow the horrible people to remain horrible. I believe Joyce Meyer would call this codependence -- when you make your problems other people's responsibility.

I've been fortunate to meet some great people while I've been here, though. Like one of my high school teachers. She taught me that the opposite of love isn't hate -- to love or to hate are to feel or believe passionately about someone or something, whether positive or negative. The opposite of love is indifference -- when you just don't care at all. (Now I think maybe, in a sense, she was referring to what Jesus was talking about in Revelation 3, about wishing the church were either hot or cold -- not lukewarm.)

So perhaps in this sense, I have a love-hate relationship with Odessa...? Hmmm. Perhaps only time will tell. :)

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