A friend’s father once told me that our school colors originate in an old union of two places. One color represents the city of Greensburg, the other Salem Township. Two generations back, when they merged into one strange gerrymandering of a school district, they merged colors, too: brown and golden yellow. Separately, brown and gold, they are fine. Together, they are nauseating.
I felt nauseated looking at the crinkly, brown wind-pants meant to warm my legs. Beneath them, loudly yellow shorts barely covered my upper thighs. Which color represents me as someone from the township, the flimsy brown or the discordant yellow? Also yellow, a sleeveless jersey probably as old as the district itself draped over my thin torso, and each time a breeze blew in through an open school bus window I shivered. I shivered in part from cold air and in part from anxiety.
Until now, most of the stories I’ve shared belong to people I’ve met in places like Vermont, Chicago, and Southern Africa. I recognize that I have neglected stories which belong to the place I called home for the longest time, and to the people I called neighbors then. There are many worth sharing, especially now that political pundits reduce swathes of the United States into ‘voting blocs.’ Those who were once people are now percentage points in a preference poll. Moreover, one of the major candidates this year is a man who claims to have all the answers for those people I called neighbors for 18 years. Liberals worry that my neighbors will ‘turn Pennsylvania red’ if they vote for that man. They are called rednecks, hicks, and stupid. Let me tell you about one of these people reduced to .01%, hick, and stupid. Let me tell you about my neighbors.