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August 12, 2013 - Carrie Olson
We’ve just hit the one-year mark of moving to the East Coast from our home state of Iowa. It’s pretty significant, since I honestly didn’t know if I would get to see this milestone. I had only been away from Iowa and family for a few months at a time, so I wasn’t sure if this whole moving thing would be all that I had hoped it would to be.
And it has been. Besides all the obvious, I live in a great city. Not NYC, but Jersey City. While we enjoy our jaunts through Central Park, walking around the Villages - we most enjoy our town. A tree-lined brownstone community with many, many restaurants and coffee shops. After walking in Lower Manhattan filled to the brim with too many people, getting off the train in Jersey City is a relief. We have options, not as many as NYC, but a lot.
It’s been a growing-up time period. I’ve had to learn to get a hold of my bill paying and spending habits. I’ve had to learn to deal with homesickness and feeling alone. And I’ve dumped some really bad habits.
And as much as I want to say that this journey has “changed me”, it really hasn’t. I’m a bit more mature, a little wiser, but the same me. While I enjoy walking down the street with Ella Fitzgerald crooning through my headphones, I truly miss the Midwest. I can see myself living here indefinitely, I could. But I also could see myself happily packing up the moving van after Nate graduates from school. In a couple weeks time, we will be flying back home for a family wedding. And just like the last time, I will press my face against the glass of the plane, grinning from ear to ear while seeing the green cornfields below. When we are driving back to Webster City, my dad will say to me, like before, “I bet this is going to be boring compared to New York.” No, Dad, no. Impossible.
People may think that I’ve got “stuck-up airs” about me since moving here. No, and I don’t really hang out in my free time with anyone who would emulate that kind of attitude. That “I’m better than others or have more knowledge than before” - yeah, no.
Being here has been amazing, enlightening, and a learning curve. I’m a bit colder and not as “Midwest nice”, but I can turn on the charm as soon as I enter my hometown farming community. I miss waving at strangers, saying hello to everyone you see while out on a run, and saying “excuse me”, “I’m sorry” and my “please” and “thank-yous” while out and about.
So, again, I do enjoy it here, but it’s no heaven on earth, that is for sure. I don’t enjoy the rudeness. I don’t enjoy the “one-upping” that is so prevalent here, and the need to be the best at anything and everything. The competition is fierce, and while I can hang out in it for awhile, I don’t have the endurance for the race. I just don’t. And the “me” culture. Wow. I’ve never met more self-centered people in my life than I have here. It’s great to have goals, it’s great to want to succeed, but man, there is more to life than this city and the people who live in it.
Now, one of my biggest gripes about this area is it’s prejudices toward Midwesterners. I’m told all the time about my accent, how it sounds funny – and that doesn’t bother me. It’s when people talk about that area of the country like it’s a giant wasteland of despair. Everyone there is a racist. Everyone there is a redneck hick. Everyone. Didn’t you know that? :) The cultured people live on either coast, and the rest, the people with no teeth or grammar skills, sit making mud pies in that vast “fly over country”. (Oh yeah, I’ve heard that phrase enough times.)
“What do you guys do there?” People inquire. “Like for fun?” I’ve had incredulous conversations with those who think that we really cow tip on the regular and sit on porches in our wicker chairs piecing together four-word sentences about the weather.
I used to defend my area like a momma bear to it’s small cub, but why bother? It’s like trying to change a staunch Democrat or Republican, not going to happen. So I thin-lip it while listening to their garbage. Most of the time, I do have a “I’m better than you” attitude, because these people haven’t even set their dainty toes on Midwestern soil before forming their ideas.
I have other gripes about NYC that will be saved for another time, but this one I can’t agree with ever. Sure, there are certain people who fit the profiles that people want to stereotype all Midwesterners as. That’s why stereotypes exist. It’s just so … frustrating. It really is.
Before I get more angry about the subject, I need to take a breath and realize … only 14 more days until I’m home. Home Sweet Iowa.