I went to dinner on the west coast with a Midwestern friend. We dressed in zombie formalism. We exchanged mutual looks of disapproval when the New Yorker adjacent to us hung up on their mom with an “I’m sorry I even called you.” Her young daughter asked why and she said, “Grandma told me not to swim tomorrow.” Our looks silently judged, “That’s no reason to hang up on your mother.” We didn’t say anything. When you shake your finger at someone else, you turn yourself into a witch casting curses.
At dinner with an old friend, we played a game I believe specific to Midwesterners. I state we’re not from came up in conversation. We both agreed we didn’t hold any ambition to live there. “Not that there’s anything wrong with it,” we tripped over each other to concede. Politeness is our hypnagogic state.
Then the game began. We tagged back and forth saying complimentary things we knew about the state, discerned from national media coverage and not any personal experience. The game concluded once again with a mutual nod of approval of the state we’d never visit. The premise of the politeness-off is that the state or some great lover of the state or the state itself overhear us and mistakenly take our not living in their state as some kind of personal insult. Of course, if the state, manifested in the form of a creature, had overheard us, it would be able to kick our city asses so perhaps the tap-dancing was an evolutionary necessity.
No matter where you go, you’re where you are from. No matter what you’re doing, all of your history is there, in you, doing it with you. Now, every place I go makes me wonder what Constance would think of it. My perspective in everyplace I am is altered by the road that brought me to it.