Three weeks ago I was at Target. Everybody was buying school supplies. I thought either people were really on top of things, or school started earlier in Utah than it did in Ohio. I asked the woman in line behind me when school started. She told me it started the 15th of August. I told her ours didn’t start until after Labor Day. “Cali,” she said. She didn’t ask it as a question, she stated it. Like if I were not living in Utah, I was obviously living in California. The only other alternative in her mind. She said Cali like it was a club. A club I wanted to be a part of. In that moment, I debated playing along. Playing the part of the person from Cali. Saying, “Yep. School never starts before Labor Day in Cali. What’s up with things in Utah?” The casual lie. She would never know. I lived in California with my aunt for summers in college, so I knew enough to keep up the facade.
I’m an honest person, but there are times when it’s so tempting to go along with a story and be that pretend person. They are a stranger, what difference does it make?
I went to Italy with my Aunt and Uncle one summer. On the return trip, they were in first class and I was in coach. I was sitting next to a guy from New Zealand. He asked me about where I was coming from. I told him I was coming back from a month in Italy. He asked me who I was traveling with and I told him, my parents. It was a lie, but a simple one. I got tired of the long story of traveling with my aunt and uncle. With the language barrier in Italy, I couldn’t handle the follow up questions. To avoid this, I started to just say my parents when the Italians would ask. Even though my seat neighbor spoke English, I said it out of habit. It was a bit of a challenge. I was seated next to him for 11 hours. We got along and talked most of the flight and I continued the lie. After awhile, I was tempted to just tell him the truth, but I had been going with it so long, I felt stupid correcting it and I was kind of having fun with it. Being a rich girl from California who jetted away with her parents to Europe for the summer. I casually mentioned them by first name about 5 hours into the flight. He just looked at me and said, I guess it’s true what they say about American kids. You really do call your parents by their first names. “Yep” I said. “That’s us.”
Remembering this story and trying to have more integrity than I did in my twenties, I responded to the woman at Target. “No. Not Cali. Ohio” The excitement of being the girl from Cali was gone. I carried my bag of makeup and diapers to the car.