Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Bless My Homeland Forever

Through much of junior high and high school, I moonlighted as a babysitter. Some stretches were like being on a Rolling Stones tour - another night, another gig.

I just texted the first kid I ever babysat, who’s now in her early twenties. She still lives in the swing state that spawned us and I needed to ensure that she’s registered to vote for Obama later this fall. When she and her mom were in New York a couple of years ago, the three of us were the most underdressed bread-breakers at the high-post Tribeca restaurant we found ourselves in.

It was during those prime babysitting years that I jumped through all the hoops it took to bust out of the Midwest – a land I didn’t hate, but didn’t love. I was born restless and most in love with the idea of customizing a path that was as fertile and newsworthy as the courses a lot of my elders had journeyed down.

I had to see, up close, what else was out there to better understand and respect where I came from. My personal and professional dealings with folks from all over have served as reminders that (underneath the narrow-mindedness that’s easily uncoverable in many of their small towns, rural enclaves, and medium-sized metro areas) Midwesterners epitomize two guiding principles – sincerity and simplicity. 

My grown-up travels back home and to other parts of the region are as medicinal as my delicious goblets of red wine. When I learn that someone I’ve just met is Midwestern born and bred, there’s more than a sense of familiarity; there’s a sense of relief.  I won’t get sucker-punched, I won’t get sucker-punched, I sing to myself (and sometimes out loud). So far, I’ve only been proven wrong once.

Elected politicians are among my least-preferred citizens, but I now get excited about presidential election seasons the way teens in their prime babysitting years get excited about Halloween. My original neck of the woods becomes a little less marginalized and is taken a little more seriously, swaying in the spotlight before getting redeposited backstage for another four years. 

3 comments:

  1. While I grew up in FL I was raised by a Midwesterner, and later married one too. There is such a difference in regional culture.

    Now that I live on the cusp of the Midwest and the South I get the best of both worlds. I will say this, Spring in the Midwest is the prettiest I've seen.

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  2. Coming from a small town - I can sort of relate. The only difference is that I don't miss "home" half as much. I can appreciate the relationships and certain aspects of it - but I'd never go back (willingly ;P)

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  3. As a person who grew up in Indiana, I was happy to read this posting. It made me feel good about being a Midwesterner transplanted to New York City. Thank you for these observations, Kadzi.

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