The Midwest – Somewhere In Middle America


To many people I meet, this would be an answer key

          I’m from Iowa, or as it’s known in California – Idaho. Or Illinois. Or Ohio. Or really any somewhat centralized state between, say, Canada and Texas.

This blog post was inspired by people I’ve met recently from Michigan and Wisconsin who live in California and have had similar experiences to my own. And this is meant in no way to be a complaint about the status quo; it’s simply a statement of fact, one I’ve just learned to accept in my two years now of living here.

You quickly learn native Californians know relatively little about the Midwest, and this applies to some of the transplants to. For instance, someone who moved here from Connecticut years ago introduced me to friends three times one night as being from Idaho. No anyone asked me any potato questions so I just let it pass.

I do the same now when people ask where I went to school. I tell them “Iowa State” and they reply, “Go Buckeyes!” Sigh. That’s Ohio State.

And this is how it goes.

I’ve decided that my part of the Midwest may as well be called the Vowel Belt because people out here seriously could look at a map and not correctly identify Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, etc. Of this, I’m fairly certain.

And truth is, if I was from California, I probably wouldn’t know either. Why would you? Why would you ever leave here?

But that only makes it all the more refreshing when you do run into a Midwesterner out here who does know where you’re from. It feels a bit like homecoming when it happens.

The interaction commonly goes like this: You acknowledge you know where the other person’s state is, and possibly even the city they’re from. You share whether you’ve visited there or not. If you have, you share a story (for instance about going to Wrigley Field if they’re from Illinois). Then you immediately commiserate about how much you don’t miss winter, which leads inevitably to a discussion about how great life is out here. And so forth.

Sometimes it goes beyond that, but that’s the base offense.

Whereas when I meet a Californian and tell them I’m from Iowa, the reply is often silence or a blank stare, but rarely an association. And that’s OK. It just is how it is.

Compared to shoveling snow, golfing in oppressive heat and humidity and the other factors that make people flee life in the Midwest, you would categorize this as little more than an inconvenience.

Life in California is largely a day at the beach. Even when you’re from Idaho.

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