Two slices of bread that meat in the middle…
I have lived on both coasts, basking in the self-righteous, vegetarian glory of overpopulated non-existence. The feature that the east and west coasts have most in common is that it costs an arm and a leg to live on either arm of The Big Chair. So why do it?
Exceptional food. When you can pluck your oysters right from the water, why eat anything else? A person can maintain a horny aphrodisiacal binge for weeks and not experience the whiney aftertaste of in-flight decay that must inevitably occur when you import something that smelly from 1,500 miles away.
Art is revered to some degree, though even some really well-known artists I have liked, people who will paint you naked in high heels even though you weren’t wearing any, live in friends’ garages and are thankful for it.
One misconception about living in California, however, is that people are all-accepting and there isn’t any prejudice. I was riding a bus in San Francisco with a guy I was dating. I thought that we would not be looked-down-upon because we were different colors because, hell, it’s San Francisco. Everyone’s gay and it’s okay, right?
Wrong. There is a huge Russian community in SF and one of their members, an old babushka with bad hair and smelling of cabbage, gave me that “You are betraying the race” glare as I got on the bus with my dude. I gave her that “You smell of cabbage and dirty snow” look and went on my way, a little bewildered. No surprise, my boyfriend didn’t even flinch. Sadly, he was used to it. Mostly because he only dated white girls.
I had the same experience in Oklahoma, but at least I expected it there. I walked into a store with a black guy and they wouldn’t serve us. I was hurt, he was not surprised, and the store lost some business because I never went back. At least I had the satisfaction of boycotting the place. I never found the Russian lady. I’m pretty sure she could have kicked my ass, though, so it’s probably better.
Racism isa difficult sticking point about living in the Midwest. I have heard the N-word more times than I can count since I have been back. I have also personally experienced prejudice here, too, but nobody cares about that. I’m white. (More on that in another column…)
I have a huge problem, however, with the notion that the Midwest is a backward, stupid place that bores people to hanging themselves or blowing their trailers sky-high in an attempt at black-market entrepreneurship. Yeah, all that exists, and the prejudice, too, but at the end of the day, most of the bad falls away. You have a better chance that someone will stop and help you on the highway if your car breaks down here, even if you aren’t white, than anywhere else. I drove a cab for a while and picked up more non-white fares than any New York cab driver I have heard of. (So did everyone else in the company. Money is green.)
I love beef. I love trees. I love spending time with people instead of spending three hours to drive somewhere or take dangerous subways just to meet some acquaintance that you hope will get you a better job because the cost of living is so high. There is actually time to have friends here. There is also a better chance that you can screw on a golf course at midnight and not get caught. Reason enough.