Rust Belt Girl here, reblogging this wonderful essay that tries to answer the question: What does it mean to be a Midwesterner? Hope you enjoy it as much as I did. ~ Rebecca

Longreads

Some places have easy-to-describe landscapes: Southeastern California is hot and dry. Southern Mississippi is swampy and green. Culture is something else, though — even though the Midwest’s flatness seems to define it, people mistakenly conflate its geography with its culture, which eludes easy description.

In The Hedgehog Review, Phil Christman recounts his struggle to make sense of his native Midwest after he moves back there with his wife. People call the Midwest “flyover country” and “the American breadbasket.” They comment on its orderly grid of roads and towns and its endless fields. But when locals tell Christman this is “the middle of nowhere” and “just like anywhere,” he not only realizes a place can’t be both anywhere and nowhere, but that viewing the region as average and normal works to the Midwest’s own detriment. As he wonders what normalcy in America even is, he questions what effect the Midwest’s sense…

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3 thoughts on “The Cost of Being a Regular Ol’ American Place

  1. Yeah, it’s an extensive–and extensively researched–essay. I keep returning to it to discover bits that I glossed over. I especially like the ” in the middle of nowhere” discussion. A town I lived near in Maryland (not in the Midwest) had a slogan: “in the middle of everywhere,” (as in close to the mountains, close to D.C., close to Virginia horse country), and it made me think about defining a place by its proximity to another place. I guess calling the Midwest “flyover country” is that in the extreme–the great expanse between the two coasts.

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