I like the phrase, “Midwest is best.” It’s because I’m from the Midwest. (Duh.) Here are some of my favorite things about my favorite region of the U.S.:
1. I like that when Midwesterners say they will do something, they mean it. Seriously. That dinner you said you’d host three months from now? You’d better start planning because even if no one talks about it in the meantime, people will show up on your doorstep the day of the party!
2. Midwesterners are polite. They won’t say something they don’t mean, but they might ignore the obvious in an attempt to put you at ease. Consider one of my favorite quotes from Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried: “[H]is reticence was typical of that part of Minnesota, where privacy still held value, and even if I’d been walking around with some horrible deformity-four arms and three heads-I’m sure the old man would’ve talked about everything except those extra arms and heads.”
3. There are seasons! I liked winter when I was really little. My dad would push all the snow from our yard (an acreage in the country) against the barn, and when he wasn’t looking, we would climb the snow pile and sled down the barn roof/snow pile. (I have since seen photos revealing holes in the barn’s decrepit roof that make me shudder. I now understand why it was a prohibited activity.) When that stage ended, I spent the next few decades hating snow and winter generally. I even spent a winter as a teenager refusing to acknowledge winter or wear a coat in sub-zero temperatures. (Teenagers, man.) Then I moved to D.C. When I could comfortably wear a t-shirt to Christmas Zoo Lights, I started dreaming of a White Christmas and realized a season-less city was not for me. My husband and I returned to Chicago a few years later.
4. I love being centrally located. I used to fly regularly for work and loved being able to go west, south, or east. (North was less enticing; see above comments re winter. I like seasons, but I’m not a masochist.) I still love that Chicago’s O’Hare offers reasonable prices for nationwide travel, often without a connecting flight.
Given my love for the region, it might seem funny that I also like when other people have a fierce love for their hometowns and communities. Sure, anyplace has its comparative strengths and weaknesses, but I respect people who choose to appreciate all the best things about their communities. For example, I’ve learned the south offers great food, hospitality, and a strong sense of family. The west has adventure and some of the country’s most incredible vistas. The east boasts big cities, history, and efficiency. So I love my region (cringing when I hear the term “flyover country”), but I also love learning about the best parts of other places. Tell me what you love about the Midwest – or tell me why I’m wrong!