Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Technicolor and a Place to call Home

When I moved from the big city to the cornfield a few months ago, a friend of mine asked me, “what are you going to write about THERE?” As if the cornfield was vanilla compared to the hustle and bustle of the big city and my brain would shrivel up in the midst of a seemingly simple lifestyle. I thought for a second that my friend could be right. I even panicked a little. Maybe there wouldn’t be enough to write about. Maybe it wouldn’t be as exciting of a life as the big city provided me.

It wasn’t until today that I realized that my friend was wrong. I’m busier now than I was in the city. I have family here, and I’ve made more friends than I ever did in the big city. The people here are three-dimensional, and I love that. The big city was a place for acquaintances and occurrences, I’ve learned. Not for anything of substance - at least for me. It was like a year vacation, really. A damn good one, but looking back in hindsight, the friends I made there were like the ones you meet at summer camp. Short-lived and bound to fizzle within a few months of my departure. Simply put, they were my martini friends. I love martinis, but I don't want them every day.

The Technicolor that the city provided is now starting to be replaced by the people around me. And, they're proving just as colorful - if not more so. My life has continued to gain momentum in the cornfield that I never really expected. When trying to figure out where I’d land and live years ago, my Dad told me something that didn’t quite stick until now. Life isn’t about geography. Home is where you make your home. Home is about the people around you, not the geography of where you live.


I’ve always loved Midwestern people, as I’m one of them. I was born here and left when I was one, but the cornfield mentality never left me, I guess. And, I'm damn proud of that. Especially when my city friends ask how many mullets I've seen today and I find myself getting slightly defensive in their stereotyping. When I talk about my upbringing in Atlanta and tell someone I'm from the south, I don't really own it like I should. I suppose because it’s true what they say...you can take the girl out of the Midwest, but you can’t take the Midwest out of the girl. I guess I'm living proof.

I live in an apartment complex, as I’ve done several times before, only this time – as a Midwesterner – I’ve realized that the people here are way more friendly than they were when I was living in apartments in cities like Atlanta or Boston. People here find you. I know several of my neighbors now, only because they all came over and introduced themselves without any prompting from me. One of my neighbors is a cute blonde, presumably in her late 30s. She’s got manicured nails, perfect hair, and a handsome live-in boyfriend. I was expecting her to be a Mary Kay saleswoman, so needless to say, I was shocked to find out that she’s in construction and that she is an ex-cop. I asked her why she gave up being a police woman, and she said, simply, “Because I shot and killed a 16-year old boy.” How’s that for interesting. She also has two different types of cancer – both back a second time from a few years in remission. She informed several of us in the complex that the cancer has returned, only because she didn’t want us “freaking out that her hair was falling out” from the chemo. She did so with a smile on her face, unassuming and trying to make us feel comfortable in the wake of her inner turmoil, I'm sure.

And, I thought I had problems.

My other favorite neighbors are two 20-something boys. I call them boys, because that’s what they are. They like to have parties and surf down their stairwell on baking sheets. Their stairwell happens to be above my living room, so this makes for interesting noise at 2 in the morning. I know this is what 20 year old boys do, so I try to let it go. Plus, they’re generally good boys, they do a lot of apologizing for the noise, and they always invite me to their keggers. It’s sort of a validation, seeing as how I’m old enough to be their very young and unwed mother.

My Dad tasked me with a three-year plan three years ago when I was in the midst of my divorce and starting over. I couldn’t even think about what I was having for dinner (as I probably had ten dollars in my checking account), let alone where I would land in three years. Well, it’s three years later, and here I am...standing up straight in the cornfield. Living in Technicolor. And coherent enough to write about it. He was right.

Home IS where you make it.