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So why should YOU be interested in what little ol’ me has to say? I’ve found that tons of opinion journalists love to peg people into stereotypes. For instance, here are some ways they might describe our different regions. (I’ve left out the really negative things because I don’t want you to think I agree with them and I really don’t need you ticked off at me already!)
If you’re from the Northeast, or went to school there, you’re smart (or, as my friend once said, “just intense”). You have lots of good colleges to choose from, you love big cities and you escape to Maine, Vermont, Cape Cod, the Berkshires or the Hamptons to get away from your 60 or 80 hour work week. You work hard so you play hard. You have the New England Patriots and the New York Giants, SuperBowl champs both. You have the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox, World Series Champions both. You have the NBA and NHL and some of the most devoted and boisterous professional sports fans of the Nation.
If you drive further down I-95, you’ll hit that “Bible-thumping” area of the South where each state seems to think THEY’RE the BUCKLE of the Bible Belt. It seems that way to outsiders because these folks can be as expressive of their love for God as they are expressive of their love for family. If you’re from there, you’re probably over-the-top friendly, enjoy a good day’s work and like to cheer on your favorite college sports team. Your social calendar is usually filled with church events and you enjoy that! You’re as technically savvy as everyone else but the difference is, your Mama taught you to be humble and your Dad taught you there was more to life than the latest gadget, although, the latest gadget is pretty doggone cool. Everyone can cook and bake from scratch and you probably don’t understand the “organic” craze, especially since you’re likely to hunt or at least tend a garden.
If you’re from the Midwest, you’re just as friendly as those Southerners but you keep things pretty private. You hate it when people from New York and California call your area “fly over” country, as if you aren’t the glue that helps keep this country together. You work hard with your hands, you take care of your family and you always are willing to extend a hand to your neighbor. You love wide-open spaces and you know the phrase “amber waves of grain” aptly apply to your surroundings. You’re not too many generations removed from your “home land” so you easily weave those traditions in with your own. You endure harsh winters, floods and tornadoes and you aren’t known to complain about it. You just do what needs to be done to get you, your neighbor and your community back on its feet afterwards.
If you’re from the West, you’re adventurous. Besides, many people headed West for gold and, if they didn’t find any, returned East. Your ancestors, however, stuck it out, pioneered new lands and well, created the most money-producing industry called entertainment. (If you ancestors didn’t end up there during the Gold Rush, they probably endured the longest boat ride across the Pacific Ocean. From the stories of my family and their journey to Japan, that is not always a smooth sail.) Your tourism industry loves that Las Vegas and Hollywood draw many Americans throughout the year. People love to visit the Grand Canyon in their RV and then one day retire to Arizona. If you’re from California, you put up with the tourists but then you understand why: you have beaches, mountains and wine country. Who wouldn’t want to visit? You just hope they’ll go home and then one day, well, retire in Flagstaff.
If you’re from the Northwest, you must love rain. You’d save money for a rainy day but let’s face it, that approach doesn’t quite work for you. You get outdoors when you can and hardly notice that misty type of rainfall. I know what you’re thinking: enough of the rain already! It doesn’t rain THAT much! In fact, it really annoys you when people say it rains like 90% of every single day. You love the outdoors, you recycled before it was “in” and you’d rather spend a long weekend camping, hiking and kayaking than roaming through a mall with their cookie cutter stores and unnatural lighting. You were wearing grunge before it was cool and don’t see what was so “grungy” about it. You appreciate the calming affects of nature, especially after putting in so many hours at the office in one of those stuffy suits and ties or your constricting pencil skirt and heels. You live for Friday afternoon when you can happily trade them in for fleece and hiking boots.
So why cover some of the generalizations about different parts of the U.S.? I was born in the South, married a Midwesterner and have been living in New England for 7+ years (grad school, then job). I’ve been out West (6 week driving tour) and I’ve visited Seattle a few times. I’ve been to Alaska once and it is as beautiful as you’ve heard. You don’t have to travel to get a grasp of the breadth of our citizens and the lay of our land. But through my travels, I have gained a deeper appreciation for the different sections of our Country and how it weaves together to make one grand Nation, a land of the Free and the home of the Brave.
Through traveling abroad (including extended periods of time in some countries), I am even more proud of my Country and feel blessed by God to have been born in a country where the American dream is whatever you make it. If you’re not an American, I hope you feel about your country the way I feel about mine. My love of country shouldn’t be interpreted as thinking your country isn’t a good one. But, with all due respect, my family didn’t fight for your country so I don’t have as much invested in it. We were also founded by people seeking “religious freedom” but not for religion in general; instead, it was Christianity in particular. I resonate with that.
I won’t peg you in a corner and I won’t think your geographical upbringing means I know everything about you. In fact, people who do that are ridiculous. What I will do, though, is use words to defend our inalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness! While doing that, I hope I’ll make you laugh along the way!