My cursor is blinking as I ponder some summation, understanding, or meaning, from my five days back home in the Middle West. I’m not sure there is any. Except that Waterloo, Iowa, is a long way from New York, New York.
If you take a left out of the parking lot of the Country Inn & Suites at which I’m currently residing, you’d be in corn fields. On this side of the interstate, though, it’s not so different from anywhere else in America.
There’s a Red Lobster across the street. There’s a Lone Star Steakhouse & Saloon next door. There’s a Sam’s Club, a Home Depot, and a Target. I could be in Summit, NJ, Indianapolis, IN, or Valley Forge, PA. I could be anywhere in The Middle.
And I feel kinda’ weird about it. ‘Cuz I don’t like it. I don’t want to live in The Middle of anywhere. It’s nothing against the Midwest. It’s gorgeous here. It’s all elements: earth, water, air. Everything is growing. There’s a beautiful symmetry to the rows of crops. And there’s more sky in one blink than a whole day’s worth of staring at New York.
Ok, here’s what it is: I don’t want to be a consumer; I want to be a creator. I mean, I know that I am a consumer, and that I have to be — I have to eat. I realize that I’m part of the system. But I wanna’ be the part of the system that makes cool stuff like songs and web sites and TV shows and films. I wanna’ take public transportation and listen to NPR, not drive a Chevy and listen to Clear Channel (though fundamentally I am Clear Channel).
What makes me this way? That we moved a lot growing up? That my parents exposed us to other countries, people, cultures? What draws me to The City like (cliche alert) a moth to a flame? What makes me crave the view from the Empire State Building? The midnight screening at the Sunshine Landmark? The lions at the public library? Hipsters on the Lower East Side? Strollers in Central Park?
I can’t imagine living elsewhere other than New York City. And I can’t wait to get home. But I love knowing that I can step off a minute, take in the longview, and see everything just a little bit differently.
We finished the ride today. It’s traditional to dip one’s tire into the Mississippi upon completion. I didn’t think I earned it. I only rode half way across the state. Still, I stepped into the river, and held the bike over my head for the photo op (which, like the beer garden, is my tradition).
I was done, but I’m not sure I’d arrived, after all. I hadn’t really committed to leaving. I was merely along for the ride, the company, and the scenery. Which, come to think of it, is worth celebrating after all.