I like Modesto. When you say "I'm moving to Modesto" to people in the SF bay area, my home for the last 5 years, they generally wrinkle their noses like something smells funny and roll their eyes in mock horror and sympathy. But then the bay area is really snooty and snobby (not my friends, of course, but the area in general*) and I never really felt like I fit in there anyway, so I don't have a problem admitting that I like Modesto. Even though there are only 23 Starbucks locations and some of the playgrounds have missing equipment and instead of paying immigrants to clean my house I live in the apartment next door to them and send my kids to school with theirs.
*And still I feel the need to point out that I know many, many wonderful people, both with money and without, in the bay area and I'm not talking about any of them. Do you hear me people who read my blog? I swear on all that it holy that I am not talking about you so please stop being offended. There's this.. attitude... of keeping up a certain standard and that's what I'm referring to. I was just as much a slave to it as anyone else when I lived there.
So I like it here, but I'm not sure how to fit in here any better than I did in San Fransiscan suburbia. When the other moms wear pajamas to the bus stop, the need to keep up a bay area appearance (My version of this consists of putting pants on and occasionally wearing a bra. Also I glance in the mirror to make sure my hair isn't sticking up. This would not actually fly in Palo Alto or Cupertino but it makes me feel really fancy and overly fussy here in Modesto) doesn't exactly aid one in making friends. The other day we were late for the bus and the bus driver scolded me for not being at the bus stop 5 minute early. It was kind of demoralizing, but due to my humiliation I had an entire conversation about bus times with the woman who normally avoids eye contact with me. I was so excited- maybe we can be friends and braid each others hair and have slumber parties!! But today she ignored me again and talked on her phone so she wouldn't have to interact (I am pretty sure that was the reason she was talking on her phone because the world is all about me and surely she cannot have had anything legitimate to talk on the phone about no that would be ridiculous) with me just because I was wearing pants. The fact that the kids were in pajamas and bathrobes apparently did nothing to balance this out.
It was pajama day at school.
Normally I make them wear clothes.
I don't want to be a snob. I don't think I'm better than anyone else. But I am shy and awkward and weird in new places & with new people and I am further unsure about my present precarious perch on the societal ladder. I am a stepmother in practice but officially they're just "my boyfriend's kids." I feel the need to casually work the fact that I am not their biological mother- that they have a biological mother and I'm not it- into conversations with teachers, school secretaries, neighbors... everyone, really. Then I feel oddly ashamed of the fact that I'm attending parent-teacher conferences/ talking to teachers about homework/making doctor's appointments for them because who do I think I am. This makes me even more awkward and weird and I usually end up walking away from conversations feeling like I convinced the person I was talking to not to be my friend.
I love my perfect little family. But I need some outside friends. Do you live in Modesto? Do you wanna be my friend? I braid some mean hair.