Unless you’ve lived in the midwest I think it’s impossible to really comprehend. I grew up in downstate IL with 3,599 other people and a cobblestone Main Street. Park in the middle of town, drive a mile in any direction, and end up in a soybean or corn field.
Blacks actually lived on the other side of the tracks. Jews didn’t live there at all, nor Muslims or any people with more than six or seven letters in their last name. There were very few Catholics; they were considered odd and a little too different for comfort. The only Mexicans were migrants who actually went back to Mexico after the crop season ended.
When the lumberyard burned to the ground, the entire population came out to watch. When a dog got loose on our grammar school playground, chasing and scaring children, I distinctly remember thinking: “This is the most exciting thing that’s ever happened!”
Yet no one I knew talked about wanting to leave. That’s where they were born and that’s where they’d stay. I went to college with this mind-set, thinking 30 miles west was quite far enough.
But then I met Frank, another employee in the sub shop I worked in freshman year. He was aghast that I had never been anywhere else, had no interest in leaving the flatlands. He was older, from Chicago, and fascinated by the whole ignorant farm girl thing. My entire life since then was influenced by this random guy.
First Oregon, then California, North Carolina and now New Jersey. Anyone wanting to try time travel should live in CA for a few years and then move to NC, easily a 20 year difference. The Mason-Dixon line is still alive down there.
Your brain never completely leaves the place you grow up in. The midwest is a slower, more bullish mindset. I married a midwesterner I found in NJ, a magnetic attraction. I’ve lived on the east coast for 20 years and still can’t stand to order food in NYC because I can’t speak or even think fast enough to keep the line happy.
The midwest comes to my mind especially regarding politics. When people in New York or California ascertain they know who will win any nationwide election I begin to laugh. They can’t conceptualize that there are people throughout the interior of this country who think in such a completely different fashion than they do. Women who wear the same housedress 20 years in a row versus women buying purses that sell for more than a used car.
Although I will never really be anything but a midwestern girl, I feel lucky that I met Frank. Of course, his intentions were not completely devoid of personal interest. He had a bit of a crush.
He even flew me to California for my 19th birthday and a week of vacation. There is no better way to get and hold a man’s attention than refusing to get naked. I think it was a problem that he liked me too much. I hadn’t reached a point in life yet where I was able to deal with someone actually being nice to me.
I finally did Frank, the night before his wedding. It was less than noteworthy. I am such a bitch that I even impress myself sometimes. A midwestern bitch at heart.