I’ve lived in the midwest my entire life. I spent the first eighteen years of my life in the same town in southern Minnesota, then attended college in northern Iowa. Needless to say, when I moved to Michigan, I wasn’t shocked by the cold winters or the ridiculous amounts of snow. I grew up in it, I learned to drive in it, it didn’t scare me. I’ve always prided myself on being from the northern midwest, because we have thick skin when it comes to winter. But for a long time, I thought that was my only claim to fame when it came to hailing from the middle of the country; “I’m used to the snow.” It took me most of my life and a move to Michigan to learn to appreciate the region I call home beyond just being unafraid of tomorrow’s blizzard.
Truthfully, there are a lot of places I’d love to live in the future. I feel like I should explore other areas of the country, new regions and new cities. But I think I’ll always have immense pride for the region in which I grew up. I didn’t know it when I was younger, but people are definitely nicer here. You know that stereotype “Minnesota nice”? That’s a real thing. I didn’t see it until I traveled to other places, but there’s a certain neighborly attitude that most people adopt in my hometown and others like it. I didn’t appreciate it before, but I certainly do now.
The midwest will always be my home, and honestly, I think I could do much worse. Sure, people from either coast will tell you that it’s the center of civilization, because that’s where all the big cities with “real culture” are located, or you can find any number of places open after 2am, or because the local music scene has been praised by Pitchfork, and maybe they’re right. I don’t know. But the midwest has great metropolitan areas, too. We have culture. We have local musicians. We aren’t just cows and corn fields (though the drive to my college town would suggest otherwise). Yes, things are more spread apart, and it gets frustrating when the nearest major airport or great concert venue is two hours away, or you can’t find anything to do after 10pm on a Thursday night. Yes, I sometimes feel like I’m living in a bubble. But after living in Michigan for a year and a half, I think I’ve actually fallen in love with it.
I don’t know why I didn’t necessarily see it before I moved here. I mean, Minnesota has its own fair share of natural beauty. But this new area I’ve come to call home really opened my eyes and made me appreciate what is surrounding me. I’ve realized that I will probably never be completely happy living in a place that doesn’t have real seasons. Like I said, winters here can be rough and long, and by February, you miss the sun so much it hurts…but during the rest of the year, we get crisp fall air and rainbow leaves, spring puddles and the smell of new grass, and summers warm enough to enjoy the beach. Sometimes, cliché as it is, I have to force myself to take a moment and appreciate the natural beauty I’m surrounded by, living up here. When I’m missing my family, or so stressed out with work that I can’t think anymore, I remind myself that I am in one of the most beautiful places in the country, and it helps.
I’ve made the decision to be here for another year. Sometimes I think I should move on to “bigger and better things,” find something more exciting to do with my life, start an adventure. But I’m not really ready for that yet. I love this area, it feels like home now, and it feels right that I should stay here, even if I need to move on from this job. I’ll find a place to live, I’ll find a new job. Things will work out. And if they don’t, I’ll still be in a place I love, and that’s enough comfort for now.