Tuesday, June 13, 2006

The Heartland

Playing cards while drinking beer: Check.

Losing $7.75 at penny and nickel slots at the casino on the way home: Check.

Trip to pancake house: Check.

Lying in the sun in my backyard: Almost check. (I'm going to do that now.)

Seeing my best friend from high school: To be checked tomorrow.

It's warm and sunny and lush with actual vegetation here. There are real houses everywhere I go. New brick mansions cost $300,000, and that alone is enough to make me consider moving back. Maybe. Okay, maybe not. Beige stucco mini-malls have the run of the land here. Chain restaurants. Furniture stores. Highways. Half-full apartment complexes advertising "FREE RENT." Seeing that, I knew I wasn't in New York anymore -- as if I needed an actual sign.

I'm going to get mushy for one second, so bear with me: I miss who I was when I lived here. It's simple enough here that above-average goals and intelligence seem just that: above-average. I went to the supermarket yesterday, and the high-school bag boy flirted with me. I'm actually attractive in this town, and I half-miss that kind of superficial attention. I know, though, that the charm of a comfortable, conservative, suburb-like town wears off real quick. I felt it the entire time I was here. The dating pool is shallow; tolerance levels are low. But for this week, I'm going to pretend it was always perfect and revel in not having to book it to the subway and to this or that function or appointment every waking hour of the day.

Midwest, I've missed you.


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