I guess I have a thing for midwestern boys. One of my college loves was a Minnesotan, who took me back for the winter carnival and the state fair. We went sledding and toured the aerial walks of St. Paul. He introduced me to A Prairie Home Companion.
Then I had a crush on the Boy from Illinois. This one was unrequited but I fell for him all the same. I visited him in Chicago and he played the harmonica. He liked to bake pie.
Operaman was from Wisconsin. When he finally invited me out to meet his family - nervously, reluctantly, as if he was out of other options - we went to a dairy and a lake and an evangelical church. Add a Packers game and it would have been the complete Wisconsin Experience.
The AD is a… Michigonian? What do you call them? So I’m going there tomorrow. I guess it was only a matter of time. I’ve never intentionally sought a Midwest Conquest but apparently there’s something there that resonates with me. Maybe it’s the cheese curds and the custard. Maybe it’s the earnestness. Maybe it’s that I meet the particular midwesterners I meet only because they have left the midwest, so they have the kindness they were brought up with but also the curiosity to head for the coast.
I was about to muse on what it is the midwesterners like about me, but in the end my lack of midwestiness has been as problematic as it has been appealing. The Minnesotan wanted me to settle down and stay still. The Wisconsinite hated my sarcasm. The Illinois Boy was scared of me altogether.
The AD is surprised sometimes by my cursing, and sometimes he’s so literal I think he must be trying to pick a fight. But otherwise we seem to do ok with our respective origin-inspired tendencies. He opens doors for me, and carries the heavy things when we go camping. When he disagrees with me I disagree back, which he likes. And here we are both of us rerooted in the northwest, enjoying the hot springs and harboring mixed feelings about the hippies.
Tomorrow I’m going to Michigan, and so far I’ve only ever been to Detroit. This time I’ll see Ann Arbor and Jackson and some little town on a lake near the Ohio border where his sister lives, and there will be fireworks and motor boats and an RV and extended family and probably meat loaf. And this is why going to the midwest feels oddly like going back home.