TV and radio stations begin with the letter “K”. I think, but I’m not positive, that America’s favorite carbonated beverage is called “pop” around here. And if the latest breaking headlines will be on at “eight-seven Central,” we’re in that Central time zone. Bill may actually be able to watch some Monday Night Football for a change.
If a sign says “left lane closed ahead,” cars in the left start to move over right away. And cars in the right actually let them. It takes about 20 to 30 minutes to get anywhere, but it’s because of the distance, not the traffic. I’m convinced that parking spaces around here are wider to accommodate the requisite big pickup truck or SUV.
I’ve yet to see a store open 24/7, and the locals aren’t up in arms over that fact. Stores are smaller and with fewer options. For the first time in my adult life, I bought American cheese that was yellow, because there was no white American cheese available.
Most of my Midwest living was as a child, but that’s where my heart is. Sure, I learned how to drive in Jersey and city streets and traffic don’t bother me. Sure, I fought my way through that hustle-bustle busy-ness that defines East Coast living and survived. Sure, I lived in a highly competitive and comparative environment where parents enrolled their children in enrichment programs from birth, sought the best preschools to give their children the edge for kindergarten, and kept the pressure up throughout their school years in order to get them into the best colleges, and I figured out how to balance that attitude with what was better for my family. If I have my family around me, I can be happy anywhere. But I think I can be happier here. Or at least more at ease.
I will admit that I am frustrated by rural shopping. The local stores are sufficient for most daily needs, and I’ll earn to live with yellow cheese, but there are a few items I’d like that I’d prefer a big selection: curtains, area rugs, stuff like that. It was nice to live close to many competing chains who had to offer a wide variety to draw people in. It was nice to go to huge grocery stores with 20 different international cheeses and whole aisles dedicated to imported specialty items (OK, I didn’t have that in Virginia, but I did in NJ). And it was nice to have the option of shopping late at night.
But I’m sure I’ll adapt. I’ll reorder my life in such a way that these things don’t bother me much. And I’ll continue to use online shopping for that 24/7 convenience and for a greater selection. And just when I’ve gotten used to this way of life, again, I’ll move right back to DC and have to relearn how to hurry up and keep busy.