Living in the Midwest has been a mixed bag for me.
I grew up in eastern Pennsylvania, so I’m used to the cold winters and humid summers. I lived for five years in Alabama going to college, so I’m used to very hot summers there as well. But there is something about living here in Illinois…I can’t put my finger on it. Doesn’t feel like home yet for me. I’ve been living here for 20 years.
The wide open spaces and large tracts of farm land are unsettling to me. Makes me feel small and lonely. During the long, harsh winters it can feel like you are living on an alien planet. Sparse forests of dead trees…flat harvested farm land…manufacturing brown fields….depressed residential areas. It’s not much to look at, unless you are living in one of the bigger cities like Chicago or Milwaukee. If I had the means to, I would pack up my family and head for something better. But where would that be in this economy?
So it’s not so pretty here. What really helps me is that the people who live in the Midwest are generally pretty awesome. More down-to-earth than the east coast folks and more open minded than the southern folks. I’ve made plenty of good friends here and they have helped me keep my sanity. Along with my wife, of course. And the beer. Can’t forget the great beer. Microbreweries and craft brewers are everywhere…plus I’ve caught the homebrewing bug. Can’t do that in Alabama.
Most winters here are pretty harsh. Long. Bitterly cold. Windy. Very depressing. Doesn’t help moods much when you run into financial crisis mode during the cold season and you are wondering how you will make the mortgage payment, the electric bill or the car insurance. We’ve endured some long, long winters. But this year, thanks to the Universe, we have had the most mild winter I can ever remember. We haven’t had much snow to speak of and we have even had a few spells of days in a row with 60-ish degrees Fahrenheit. It’s been much needed and I feel like my mind and body are a little refreshed. Coincidentally, my business has been performing better as well.
The lesson here, folks, is don’t move to the Midwest if you don’t have to. Nothing to see here. But if you are stuck here, like I am, make sure you check out your local microbrewery. They’ll take care of you. Good people.