A love letter to the Midwest
Gina Twardosz | Monday, March 26, 2018
The Midwest is not idyllic.
Life in the Midwest is not enviable — especially in the winter, especially when it’s March and still thirty degrees outside. The Midwest is a rather shapeless entity, not too far south or north or west or east. Just smack in the middle of nowhere, amidst corn fields and signs for dusty churches that read: “CH_RCH What’s Missing? U.” It’s distinctly American, but not as symbolically American as New York City or as traditionally American as the South.
I was born and raised in the Midwest and have always had to describe my hometown of Valparaiso, Indiana, through its proximity to Chicago. “If you’re not from Chicago, Detroit or Indianapolis, does that mean you were you raised on a farm?” Okay, so I haven’t been asked that, but it’s implied under the high scrutiny of what it means to be a Midwesterner.
The Internet understands the Midwest like so: everyone from the region lives next to a cornfield, says ‘ope’ to get past something or someone even when they are not even close to running into it (guilty) and is disturbingly fond of ranch dressing (not guilty).
The Midwest is flat and uneventful, a graveyard of dying industries, a land of missed opportunity — this is what it seems like to many. But, we shouldn’t eulogize the Midwest just yet.
The Midwest is coming back, it’s no longer a silent victim of the Rust Belt. Tech corporations are starting to take notice of Midwestern towns, according to the New York Times article “Silicon Valley is Over, Says Silicon Valley.” The manufacturing industries are already here, they just need revamping. And all those hipsters whom you hate to love and begrudgingly order your fair trade coffee from? They’re the ones fighting for the Midwest the most by bolstering its economy with small business. And the Midwest has some of the best universities in the country (I may be biased on this one but U.S. News backs me up with their National University Rankings).
Yet, the Midwest still maintains its generational quality, its sentimental nature, and this is why I love it so. I think back to years ago when all I wanted to do was get as far away from the place where I grew up as physically possible, a place that I thought was stagnant and encumbering. I was too young to appreciate the Midwest then, too naive to understand it. Now, I’ve grown nostalgic for the Midwest — I find it comforting. I’ve grown to appreciate its subtle nuances, emerging opportunities and surprising wealth of diversity.
Someday, I’ll move from the Midwest, but the region will never not be meaningful to me.
While I don’t expect you all to feel the same way, I do hope you won’t count out the Midwest just yet.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.