Growing up in Indiana, we referred to “the East Coast” as though it was a foreign land located much further away than the 700 miles separating the Atlantic from our oasis in the corn. “The East Coast” also carried derisive connotations, conveying our sense that the over-crowded, hyper-speed world of the east (as communicated through television depictions of New York) lacked common sense, common decency, and knowledge of the truly important things in life.
Now some four years since I last called the Midwest home, I occupy a little condo in a lovely town, smack in the middle of “the East Coast.” Looking back toward home from this perspective (for Indiana will always be home), its strikes me that the people here understand the Midwest as little we understood them. “The Midwest” is a savage place to some of them, occupied by bible-thumping zealots scattered across terrifyingly empty landscapes. The distances, the simplicity of life, the quiet, are all unfathomable to the mind accustomed to driving between four states in the course of an afternoon and dodging innumerable bodies jus to move along the sidewalk.
Across this gulf (consisting primarily of Ohio, which is unbelievably empty even to a Hoosier) I step, hoping to strike up conversations in both places on topics relevant to the denizens of both. Here’s hoping someone reads it!