This morning, Randi and I lay staring at the ceiling of our bedroom, talking about, of all things, the Girls Scouts and the things that it taught her about independence and equality and respecting the environment. “If it’s still like that,” she said, “then yeah, I’d want our kids to be in it.”
It got me thinking, Randi is from Oklahoma, a state that clings to it’s own like a guilty conscience. It’s deeply rooted. The kind of place people have a hard time leaving. Randi was a a big time Girls Scout. Twice, she and her sister were the top cookie sellers in the state. I wondered how her involvement with the organization influenced her. She is currently vegan, an avid environmentalist, a political activist. She also hightailed it out of there and moved here to New Mexico, something many of her family members still don’t understand. And so I asked her how many of her Girl Scout friends eventually “Got out” of Oklahoma.
Here’s what you need to understand. Randi and I are both nerds. English majors, writers, readers. We can hardly hold a conversation without it twisting from the simple–“look at Tree (our dog) eating her food over the carpet”–to the more complex–“And how can people possibly think that animals aren’t a,b,c,etc.”
So, as soon as the words are out of my mouth, we start talking about the difference between people who “get out” of someplace and people who “want to be somewhere else.” Our logic: someone who wants to “Get out of Oklahoma” will never leave. By the very idea, they are automatically setting up obstacles. “Getting out” implies the word “escape” and thus, the question: what are they escaping from? (and is it physical or psychological?). On the other hand, someone who wants to be somewhere else (New York City, for instance) is focused more on the road it takes to get there. How can they find/afford an apartment, how will they make friends, will they be able to obtain a job. Our logic: those who say “I want to get out of this town” are less likely to ever leave than those who say, “I want to move to _____.”
Today, writers, I’ll spend my writing time giving some thoughts to my characters and I invite you to do the same. Who are these people and what are their histories. Why are they where they are, and what kind of people are they? Do they long for something or are they trying to escape? And how do the words they use to describe their life create the very barriers they are trying to overcome?