Friday, March 14, 2014

a note on the midwest

I interrupt the vacation storytelling to bring you a little note on my encounter today. I’m going to do some generalizing & stereotyping. If that gets your knickers in a twist, read no further.

I waited for my bus inside a hotel lobby today because it was chilly outside. I sat down next to a man who must have seen me eyeing his goodies because he jokingly declared that I couldn’t have his wine or chocolates. He explained that today was his lucky day. A lady had given him the wine because she didn’t want to carry it around in her purse and the chocolates were from a waitress to make up for his cold eggs.

He asked me if I was from DC, to which I responded that nobody is really from DC. This is, of course, not entirely true, but pretty close. He wanted to know where I’m from. I answer this question differently depending on the situation. When I’m outside the DMV (DC-Maryland-Virigina), I usually tell people I’m from the DC area, but when I’m here in the DMV, the answer is always North Dakota. I haven’t lived there in almost 10 years, but it’s still home.

 “You’ll never guess where I’m from,” he said, “North Dakota!” Of course he was.

We went on to a have a lengthy discussion about home, oil (naturally), his visit to DC, and my life in DC. It was the best way to spend a few minutes waiting for the bus. It reminded me how much I love people from the Midwest, particularly people from North Dakota. There are so few of us that it’s hard to meet one you don’t instantly love.

Some of you may not get the whole Midwest thing, and I understand that. I know we aren’t the warmest bunch. We can be a bit (ok, a lot) reserved, pragmatic to a fault, suspicious of outsiders, annoyingly polite. We think soda is pop, this is salad, and distance is measured in hours, not minutes.

After living in the South for 5 years and now the Mid-Atlantic for just under 5 years (I confess that I always thought  DC was just considered East Coast before moving here), Midwest really is best. This isn’t a knock on the South. I loved the food and was fascinated by the big personalities, bless your hearts. Although, I will admit I could have done without the weather and the hugs. SO MANY HUGS. And I love living here in the DMV where we enjoy 4 distinct seasons, cultural diversity, and trees. Trees are great.

But at the end of the day, there is no one I would rather have in my corner than a Midwesterner. We are fiercely loyal, refreshingly genuine, sensible, hard working, honest, and humble. It can be hard to break through our shells, but once you do, you have a friend for life. We won’t think twice about lending a hand or feeding a neighbor – probably with hotdish.

Since I haven’t lived in the Midwest for a long time, I find those sensibilities in me slipping away. The accent faded a long time ago. I smile less at strangers. I walk faster. Being able to see for miles now seems strange. Today was a nice little reminder that there is no place like home, even if home is considered a flyover state by most.

9 comments:

  1. I'm a native South Dakotan living in Connecticut, and I'm totally with you on all counts. I also now have a craving for cookie salad, which, in my mind, is second only to pretzel salad.

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    1. Yes! The south may have fried food, but nobody does dessert salads like the midwest!

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  2. Cute! I think you got North Dakotans spot on.

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  3. Great article, Katie! I think you hit the nail on the head, especially when describing the people.
    When one thinks of hot dish and cookie salad, you have to include Scotcharoos. They too, are found at every pot luck. Bethany said they hadn't heard of them in the south, but they are a fast favorite!

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    1. Thanks! And you are so right about scotcharoos - a potluck staple I don't think I've ever seen anywhere else.

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  4. My husband came across your blog and shared it with me... I LOVE it! Just love it! I am originally a California girl, born and raised who fell in love with a North Dakota farmer via Twitter AND now am happily living in North Dakota! Yeah, it's quite the crazy story but anyway! I always love when I stumble across people that have a connection to this great new state I call home!

    I have to say, I just adore your blog. I see that you and your hubby have the travel bug too! We just took a trip to Singapore, Cambodia, and Thailand this past winter and it was amazing! I can't wait to spend some more time reading all your photos and gawking at your gorgeous photos!

    You can find me at http://prairiecalifornian.com and I am excited to add another ND lover to my circles! :)

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  5. OH and p.s. in true Dakotan form.. It was your caramel roll recipe that my husband shared with me! HA!

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    1. Isn't North Dakota great?! It's a wonderful place to call home. I miss the wide open spaces and friendly faces. Thanks for the sweet note and for reading the blog!

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  6. Fellow NDer, now living in Chicago suburbia. I stumbled across your caramel rolls this morning after lamenting on Facebook that NO ONE in Illinois knows how to make an honest to goodness caramel roll. But you have it right about what happens when you run into someone else from North Dakota. Start sharing names and family connections and the next thing you know, we have friends in common.

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