The Girl with the Greyhound Pin
I’d forgotten that I was wearing it, to be honest. I had owned this pin for over six months at this point. It wasn’t new. It had fuzzies attached to it. Most of the time, it was at least moderately hidden by my hair or scarf. But this pin became an extension of myself, as if everything you’d need to know about me became wrapped up in this one pin. Let me explain.
I lived in England for about a year and a half. I got my Master’s there. I lived in Manchester, which is (arguably) the second biggest city in England. Manchester is large, artsy, hipster, culturally diverse and still very, very British. Manchester had regular independent art markets throughout the year that usually hosted artists from the area.
Through the power of social media, I ended up following quite a few artists from the area, including this man who made almost exclusively sighthound prints, totes, and, you guessed it, pins. Here's his Instagram page if you're interested. I saw that he would be at an art day at a cool pub downtown one Sunday in July. I went. I bought a blue and white greyhound pin and I immediately attached it to my coat. I loved that pin.
I lived in Manchester for about 5 months after getting that pin, and because of the distinctly wet and chilly climate, I wore the same coat and pin combination nearly every day. I could probably count on one hand the amount of people who commented on my pin and most of them were friends of mine. Never had a stranger ever commented on it, but I guess people just don’t talk to strangers in England.
And then I moved back to America, to Kansas to be exact. I brought my coat and pin with me. It was still winter, after all. Within 3 days, I had received 5 comments on my dog pin, all from strangers. Kind strangers, saying that they liked it. It was nice, but also, it threw me entirely off guard.
The conversations usually go like this:
Stranger: I like your pin!
Me (taken aback): Oh! Thank you!
Stranger: Is it a greyhound?
Me: Sure is. I love dogs.
Stranger: Where did you get it?
Me: Uhh I used to live in England. I got it while I was there.
At this point, I will try and either move away or preoccupy myself elsewhere. This wasn’t because this interaction was bad, quite the opposite, it was pleasant. But I know that my last comment, my inevitable last comment, leads to at least ten more questions that I won’t have time to answer or they won’t feel confident enough to ask. That’s okay with me.
In England, I understand why the pin does not stand out. Manchester is full of artsy, interesting looking people. By comparison, I look downright average. Plus, Brits don’t talk to each other.
In Kansas, I understand why it does. I still dress very European over here in my long coats and sweaters and dress pants. I am a far cry from the athletic t-shirts and joggers that are common. Pins are uncommon. Greyhounds are uncommon. Greyhound pins are especially uncommon. Plus, Americans talk to each other.
I like to imagine the scenario like this:
A sleek, modern woman steps into the elevator. She seems both pleasant and serious. She is wearing an interesting pin on her long coat that looks like a greyhound. You compliment her pin and she thanks you warmly. Naturally, you ask where she got it. She replies that she used to live in England and that she got it there. Of course, such a refined person would live in Europe, but why was she here in Kansas? She smiles and exits the elevator with a clip of a heel.
In my head, it goes more like this:
An exasperated woman enters the elevator. She is trying to collect her thoughts. You compliment her pin but she is obviously thrown off guard. She stumbles over her words. She answers with a sigh that she lived in England. She misses England. How did she end up back here? Is she a total failure? Did something terrible happen? She is so obviously out of place. She stumbles as she exits the elevator.
The truth is that I love and hate my greyhound pin. I love it because it is quirky, unique, and perfectly showcases my love of dogs and ceramics. I hate it because it is a constant reminder of what I once had and who I once was. I miss walking greyhounds and I miss living in England. I miss walking around anonymously in a big city and going to artsy events. It forces me to wonder, again, exactly how I ended up here. It forces me to remember that parts of me will never fit anywhere.