I like coming to The Middle. To me, this is the real US, very different from the edges, where I live. The space is wide open, the people are nice, and driving is always involved. Also I guess it reminds me of Sacramento and the Central Valley, where I grew up. This week I am in Indianapolis and Kansas.
Before Madi started at IU I thought of Indiana as like a twin state to Illinois. But she quickly found that Indiana is much more like Kentucky North then it is Illinois East. And working here this week, I heard more references and comparisons to Kentucky than to any other place. For instance, Indiana is grappling with a since-prohibition law against selling liquor on Sundays. Guess who’s against it? The liquor stores, who argue that if they open on Sunday, they’ll go out of business. So Indiana is looking to Kentucky to figure out what to do so liquor gets sold on Sunday and everybody lives. Nobody looks to Illinois to see into a future where liquor stores sell bottles on Sundays and stay in business.
When I come to Kansas I work in Topeka but I fly into Kansas City about 80 miles away. So I always have to drive across northeastern Kansas to get to work. It’s just rolling prairie and grass and beautiful flint hills. Towns like Lawrence and Eudora are named for patrons in New England who funded settlements as America moved west. I have to admit that I never gave much thought to Kansas other than maybe glancing down while flying over it. But it’s beautiful, and interesting.