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Coming “Home” 9 May 2010

Posted by magicdufflepud in Uncategorized.
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It snowed a week an a half straight in the run-up to my departure from Summit County. All that after two and a half weeks of sunny skies and greening grass. I’d even tried finding a disc to get some ultimate games together before winter returned in a way that no one in the mountains had really desired but that everyone had anticipated. Just the same, my own mountain life has ended, and this will no longer continue as a blog written 9300′ above mean sea level. Today Google Earth says it’s–let me check–a hair under 500′. And a few weeks from now, it’ll split the difference, settling for six months at least in the Mile-High City.

For the time being, though, it’s enough to have come home after this longest span spent away–six months, longer than any other single period outside the St. Louis metro area. Yet since I first left for college five years ago, coming home has meant less and less with each go around, I imagine following a pattern set eons ago with the first crop of students to leave crying mothers behind. This time, with the house prepared for sale, my room stripped and re-painted and all the effects removed to meet realtors’ requirements for sterility, it has transformed into nothing more than a familiar floor plan with a dog I’ve known for 13 years. And a mother. It’s Mother’s Day after all.

House or no house, crossing all those cornfields brings back the supersaturated memories of growing up Midwestern, the Steak ‘n Shakes and riverfront fireworks. Humid afternoons and snows days for six inches the night before. Counting silos out the car windows. If the East Coast has forgotten the Midwest, it has just as much forgotten a suburban sensibility born of hard, tangible work and big family reunions.

Have you ever looked at a map of Illinois? Traced its rail lines and highways to discover the towns built for the sole purpose of supplying grain to a hungry nation? The main street parallels the tracks; the elevator rises higher than the church steeple, yet you watch the Tour de France rapt. What curious towns! What culture! Oh, Languedoc! Ici, je suis ailleurs.

I’m leaving the Midwest, of course, but I want so badly to stand up for it in its fight against irrelevance, its perceived stagnation. But by every objective measure, I can’t. In 2008, St. Louis finally staunched an exodus over half a century old while Phoenix continued to balloon and New York set more population records. The coasts are better educated, per capita incomes higher. I’m left with this vague emotional appeal and the waning grandeur of a city that hosted the first Olympic Games seen in the New World, then looked inward and set about its own destruction. See: Pruitt-Igoe. And for a counterpoint: Peter Cooper Village.

There is hope yet, but yes, for now this is coming home.

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