Fields. Football. Flyover. Fried Food. And Fat People. Cows. Conservative. Camo. Country Music. And Car Racing.
Midwestern stereotypes. Yes.
But it’s certainly not all there is here. There’s so much more to the Midwest. So much more.
Having spent the past several weeks back in a small town, there’s something to be said for them. Something good. Something amazing really. Something that has re-instilled my faith in humanity actually.
Neighbors are well, neighborly. Mowing each other’s lawns without being asked. Dropping by with freshly baked cupcakes. Just because. Grocery store aisles blocked and lines held up by neighbors and friends stopping to chat. Hell, even the people that don’t know one another act as if they do. In fact, I have to say, I haven’t met a single stranger while here.
People are trusting and honest. My grandmother doesn’t own house keys. She leaves her car keys in the car. The local eye doctor (who doesn’t know me from Adam) let me bring home a box full of frames to try on – and didn’t even write down which ones I took or how many. Even the mechanics are honest. The local garage did a full check of my grandmother’s car and couldn’t find a single thing wrong. And told us just that. And didn’t charge a penny for his time, the check-up, or the fluids he topped off.
Community members work together and take care of one another. Whether it’s setting up a church garage sale, a community fundraising dinner, or the building of a home. The community comes together and works together. Just because that’s what you do.
The National Government isn’t the only thing to have shutdown in recent weeks. The town’s meat packing plant, which employs a large portion of the population, had a fire and has had to temporarily shutdown. Difference – the plant is paying it’s employees throughout the closure – because it means more to keep, and take care of, their workers – many of which live paycheck to paycheck – than to lose even more money.
There are a lot of trucks. But they serve a purpose – such as hauling vegetables. Here the farmer’s markets were in existence long before it was trendy. Buying organic and local isn’t just for the hippies and yuppies. It’s the way of life. Always has been.
A simple life is the happiest. The past few weeks have been just that simple and happy. Along with…stress-free, comforting, slow, beautiful, and refreshing…there’s so much more to the Midwest, so many more reasons, than just corn and country music, to love it:
- No rush hour. No traffic. Ever.
- Homemade meals. Very little eating out.
- A lack of pretention.
- Home ownership is the norm.
- Open spaces.
- Everything is 5 minutes away.
- The nights. The quiet. The crickets. The stars.
- Garage sales. With “treasures” at reasonable costs (read: practically free).
- Support for sports. High School. College. Professional.
- Non-judgmental attitudes. Especially regarding possessions and what you have (or don’t have). I’ve been driving around in a late 90s large Mercury. No one has looked twice.
- Summer tomatoes. Summer sweet corn. Summer in general.
- More nurses, teachers, doctors, clerks, factory workers, and mechanics as lines of work than being in “marketing” or “consulting”.
- When moving there will always be someone with a truck, or two, you can borrow.
- No standing in lines. Anywhere. Not even at the DMV.
- The vast possibilities.
- Low cost of living.
- Four real seasons.
- Hard-working people.
- Going “to town” means an hour’s drive to a Target and sit-down restaurants.
- Real people. Skinny. Fat. Smart. Stupid. Real.
- The fact that everyone is famous in a small town.
- These are my people. This is where I come from. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
These are my people
This is where I come from
Were givin’ this life everything we got and then some
It ain’t always pretty
but it’s real
It’s the way we were made
Wouldn’t have it any other way
These Are My People
We fall Down and We get up
We walk proud and We talk tough
We got heart and We got nerve
Even If we are a bit disturbed - Rodney Atkins
Happily living the life in small town America – Arkansas City, KS.