The following conversation is transcribed from a conversation between me (HS) and my mother/informant (SW).
HS: So you had a high school tradition that you would like to elaborate upon, is that right?
SW: So back in high school, when I was still living in Kansas there really wasn’t that much to do. Here in California, you can go to the beach, surf, play volleyball, your options are virtually unlimited. You can take a drive to the desert or go to the mountains. But in Kansas, the options are a lot more limited. So what we would do as entertainment is something that we called, “mudding.”
HS: And what exactly is “mudding?”
SW: Okay, this is going to sound dumb, but there was literally nothing to do in Kansas. That’s why I moved back to California as soon as possible! But anyway, my friends and our guy friend group would take out our jeeps and trucks to the nearest muddy, flat area, and do donuts and drive around. The competition was to get as much mud on your car as possible and the winner would get paid out by all the other drivers.
My informant is my mother. She was raised in Huntington Beach, California, but she moved to Kansas with her family when she was 16 because a majority of her family was living there and in Missouri. She always dreamed of coming back to California and took the first opportunity she could get to come back. She now lives in Dana Point.
I was sitting at dinner with my parents and was talking to my mom about why she moved back to California from Kansas.
This tradition in my mother’s community shines a light on smaller local contexts in which people seek entertainment. Mudding made me realize that traditions are widely confined to their regional context and are cultivated and transformed within those communities. Out of circumstance, individuals are confined to the cultural and regional settings in which they are raised.