Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Good Life

It's amazing how often the fact that I'm from Nebraska enters ordinary everyday conversation for me. Even with people I see nearly every day (classmates).

Ever since I moved down to Florida, my home town and home state have always been a huge point of interest with people. I'm not one to say Nebraska is better than other places to live, or that I can only be happy there. It's where I grew up, it's part of me, and I love it so much.

I would say at least 50% of my classmates are from the south (VA, NC, GA, FL, AL, TX, etc.) No one else is from the midwest (or what I consider the midwest to be.) So naturally people wanted to know what it's like and were interested because possibly I didn't fit the stereotype of a small town Nebraska kid. Whatever that means. I always get erked when people have those stereotypes. Just because you live in a small town doesn't mean you're uneducated or knowledgeable about the world. Of course, I was blessed to be in a family that would travel non-stop around the country. But that's small town life for you. Anytime we needed to go to the airport, 5 hour trip. Shopping? 4 hours. Relatives? 12 hours away. You want to see your sister? Hop on a plane to DC. Huskers are playing in Arizona? Let's drive on down.

Anytime I mention driving to Tyler TX to visit Emily, or driving a far distance just for a day people's minds are blown. A person mentions driving down to Miami and my response is "that's not bad." When you live in a small town, driving long distances is just something you get used to. I think my record is from McCook to Cape Cod, MA. About 32 hours straight driving the whole way, and driving solo for most of the trip.

But today my cinematography professor, Johnny Jensen ASC was talking about his weekend trip to Georgia and how different it is from North FL because they actually cut down trees to do farming unlike FL land where it's all trees. I got in a conversation with him about the openness and how it's real rural living and the conversation naturally went to Nebraska.

All my friends want to know what Nebraska is like. I always start off saying "I love it." Which is strange to most of them seeing how they either want to move to LA or NYC. I try to explain why I love it, but I just end up saying "You have to go there, meet the people, drive for hours, and you'll know."

People always want to know why I wear Husker shirts and hoodies all the time. I try to explain that it doesn't have to be a gameday for me to support a team. It's more of a support of the entire state in my mind. I'm not used to not seeing EVERYONE wear red every single day of the week. And then I try to explain why NE football is so great because it really is backed by the entire state of Nebraska unlike any other football team in the nation. It's an identity, a culture.

And then there's those times when something comes up such as farming, or a tractor and people turn to me as if I know the answer but again...stereotype.

My friend Rich was talking about hiking in the Appalachian Mountains and he turned around and said "But I'm sure it's nothing compared to your adventures in the Rockies" He knew we honeymooned in Vail. I had to explain to him that despite McCook being close to Colorado, I would never consider it being close to the Rockies and that it's a good 5 hours to any sort of mountains. But of course, how would he know.

It was 40 degrees one morning and the Starbucks lady got mad at me because I ordered a cold drink. I told her straight up that it's Florida, it's never cold. She looked at my Nebraska hoodie and she understood.

Sometimes I'll be in a conversation about music scenes and someone will mention the Omaha indie scene. I miss going to concerts.

Alexander Payne came here last year. I'll mention that he's a NE filmmaker and I've actually sat down and chatted with him.

I realize that some people are turned off whenever Nebraska comes into a conversation. I don't look for opportunities. It's just who I am. I could live in Antarctica and Nebraska would still come up in conversation.

What Emily and I noticed this August the second we stepped off the plane in Omaha, home is where your family is and everyone there seemed like family. It was a whole new experience since I've moved away because I hadn't been there for several months. Both of us were sort of shocked how immediate we could notice a change of lifestyle.

Maybe someday we will live there again. Emily knows I would like that. But right now, it doesn't really matter. As long as I have a home with Emily, I'm home. Geography doesn't determine happiness. She makes me happy.


Jillian Anderson said...

I thought Emily was writing this claiming Nebraska as her home state.... I mean YOU ARE FROM TEXAS. But then I realized this was a dual blog :)

Jillian Anderson said...

PS you forget to add 4 other people that make you happy. Me, Gus, BFP, and most importantly, Mildred.

Chelsea Anne said...

Hahaha Jillian I was reading it the same way haha!!
Aaron, I love the closing statement :)

rob and tiff said...

oh, how i feel the same way. and nobody understands this culture.

very well written.