In my seemingly brief 31 years on this planet of which I’ve been mentally cognizant for, eh, 13 of them perhaps, I have repeatedly heard the phrases, “end of an era” or, “the good ol’ days”. I myself, have used and probably overused these phrases though my age would suggest I am merely blowing hot air as I have not been around long enough to use either. However, this evening I report on what is the end of an era beginning well before my childhood, my Uncle Blaise’s house in Vermont, aka “The House”.
For the past two decades I have been a visitor of The House. I learned what ‘real food’ is (hint: not McDonalds), watched my first Marx Brothers movie and developed my passion for film, learned how video games are enjoyable, but can never compare to good face to face conversation, and truly fell in love with Vermont and small town living. We cooked for the family, we swam in the river, we hiked, and played badminton. Anywhere between 10-20 of us packed into a small, three-bedroom cottage, grabbing sleeping space wherever the floor was flat, not one person crying out for an actual bed. This summer retreat for 4th of July weekend was everything that is amazing in life. It revolved around friends, family, food, the outdoors, and pinochle.
My only potential regret is that I may not be able to bestow this type of experience upon my son as he gets older. And that is because of a trend that I am noticing on a bigger level which is there isn’t the forced family time anymore. As a kid I quickly learned you wanted to make it to the head table, and if it wasn’t your time, you sit as close as possible and listen in. Kids today aren’t interested in that. They are too involved in their technologies and faux existences to want to learn from the adults. Between bs television shows that show kids with far more independence, rudeness, and disrespect than we ever encountered, and the constant need for visual stimulation from flashy videos and games, children are growing up independent of the qualities that are essential to being well-rounded communicators. They aren’t being forced to listen and wait for their moment to contribute to the conversation.
But looking beyond just the house in Vermont, do people go on vacation or do retreats like they used to in the 60’s and 70’s? Was Dirty Dancing fake and there aren’t summer getaways with arts and crafts and dancing and socializing? We need to have these types of vacation destinations again. We need to force interaction between people from all different geographical locations and trade stories of experiences while creating new ones.
There is far too much polarizing propaganda that is meant to create controversy and division to keep people from uniting. I’ve experienced ‘Southern Hospitality’ from right-wing, bible belt Christians. I’ve experienced a Northern small town community atmosphere where it seems like everyone is in on this secret safe haven; immune to outside hate and bullshit where everyone is accepted. Ideologically they are exactly the same while claiming to be totally different because of social belief standards set by the mainstream. North to South, East to West, being human and having good family and friendly values doesn’t change no matter what your religion, race, or economic standing in life is. So why are we letting this country become divided over this he said she said nonsense?
It is time for everyone to start creating their own “Vermont Houses”. It is time to create opportunities for everyone to experience positive interactions with people of similar interests from different locations. Share the plight of your neighbor and help in any way you can, even if that means just being, literally, a good neighbor. It may be idealistic. It may be the Crown Royal talking. But I’ve never met anyone I couldn’t relate with on at least one topic. Let’s start a new conversation today. Hi, my name is Matt. Do you know how to play pinochle?