Dead in the Midwest

I've lived half my life without my dad being alive.
Isn't that weird?
You'd think I'd be used to it by now, right?

In some ways I am used to it. I'm used to death, I guess. I get dying. It's not usually something that results in major trauma for me, probably because it's so natural and so beyond control. Basically, if a person is doing pretty good to live their lives fully and with a minimum amount of extra risk than death is pretty much par for the course in my head. I can argue a lot of things and be a very tricky customer, just for the sake of being tricky but when death is the topic - forget it. It's not worth arguing and frankly, it's probably the only thing about which I would admit that.

I have a grandmother who isn't doing very well at all. I worry more about my mother than about the fact that my grandmother isn't going to live very much longer. She had eight kids, lived in the same house for an eternity, out-lived many of her siblings and her husband and what more is there? It's not cruel or cold to think that way.... it's just that people die. They are born and then they die. She's going to die, just like me, just like my dad did exactly half my life ago.

I feel like that's significant for some reason - like, I know it probably isn't meaningful but it seems like more than just poets would account for how different someone is when he or she loses a parent. How different do you become when you are looking at the rest of your life being more than half your life without that vibrant and loving fuck up of a parent.
And I say that because on some level, we white kids all blame our parents for messing us up and I just happened to lose mine the midst of adolescence, the greatest messing up time of all.

It's really easy for me to say that, way out here away from everything, right? It's really easy for me to seem flip or something when I toss off about dead people and dying people.
It's really practical and Midwestern to think that way, huh?
I've been getting all of this pressure to move back to the Midwest. I called an Uncle's house not too long ago to find that I was the subject of the conversation (speak of the devil type of thing). They had all agreed that I belonged in the Midwest and I recently started getting print outs of MLS listings in Indianapolis.

It doesn't matter what I say to my family about the Midwest. I get this: "You always say you're a Midwestern girl. And you love Classic Rock. You should live in the Midwest. You belong here."
Uhhhh........ riiiiiiiight. What I recall of my adult years in the Midwest are soaked in Miller Lite, rapidly gaining weight and going to my doctor, BEGGING for her to tell me I had a thyroid condition, and smoking a pack a day of Camel Lights.

Now I live on the what is basically the sunny West Coast. Tucson and Phoenix live with a Southern California standard of beauty, an assumption that by nature of your education you are successful, and I hate to say it but there is a very hippy-dippy acceptance of the fact that vibes and energy matters. It's totally like, not a bummer.

In Illinois, I was allowed to be fat, I had to prove myself from Ground Zero over and over, and once when I said something about the energy in the room has shifting a little out of my comfort zone, I would usually get laughed into nervously saying, "I'm kidding! I'm totally kidding! Energy? What kind of shit is that?"

Before I get hate mail telling me that I'm a West Coast snob with fake hair and implants, understand that I know I recently CHOSE to respond to a higher standard of female beauty. In Illinois, it didn't occur to me that I could make up my own style because it's really important to be The Same. Sadly, The Same doesn't work for everyone and bear with me.... let's say I am living in the Midwest and I am copying my look from, say In Touch. The pictures I see are of Hollywood Hos and I think to myself that I really love those shorts and wedges. But it's 57 degrees on a June evening where I live, how do I make the look work?
You don't - nobody does.
Me, and all of my friends froze our asses off or looked ridiculous adding tights to summer dresses when we were in our twenties.

You know what else I love about living out here?
If you don't want to respond to some perceived pressure to look like everyone else, you don't have to. For the first few years here, I lived very much inside my matchy-matchy and chubby Midwestern physicality. I got along just fine in terms of social acceptance and dating and stuff. Over the last few months, I've chosen to step myself up a little - pay more attention, be more organic to myself. I'm not going out and getting blond hair and implants or Restylin or anything but I am paying a lot more attention to presenting my physicality as something unique and outstanding, at least to me when I look in the mirror and have to judge myself.
In Derby, there's defintly a look that comes with the sport.
Some of the most professionally playing girls totally fit the arm-sleeve tattoo and Bettie Page hair-cut look that's commonly associated with Derby and you know, some of these girls would be labeled as "not in that good of shape" in the Midwest. Here, reagrdless of the fact that they look the part, they are considered to be super-stars because of the athletic performance they turn in every chance they play.
By the same token, there are girls who look like they just got off of the tennis court and they are just as talented and committed as the women with the spiky hair and the punk make-up.
I'm trying to make the point that there's a level of acceptance out here, just for being yourself; there's an expectation that you will not try to be a clone and that if you want to be a clone.... that's okay too.

I never found this to be the case in the Midwest; I felt like I had to take a side. When I was back there for a week earlier this month, I felt those old pulls to cover something up, to not be totally myself, either way.
I felt like someone was counting the number of times I said, "Dude."

There's also a certain amount of proving yourself that you have to do in the Midwest. There, people are assumed to be a threat at first. They take the time to show you that they have something better than you have and so you are constantly waiting for that asshole to show off his new convertilbe. That he can only drive three months a year, due to how carppy the weather is most of the time.

Or someone has a cousin who graduated with your husband's secret boyfriend's sister and back in high school, there was this one party where the sister's grandmother called the cops and everyone got busted and somehow, you got blamed for it and ostracized by an entire high school; forgiven eventually but never forgotten and stuck for life with a nickname like Narco Nicki or Rhonda the Rat.
I think that the manufactured boredom and going to great distances to find drama has something to do with spending so much time inside. I hate having the windows totally closed, still.
In my last apartment in Illinois, even in winter I would crank up the heat and crack my window. When the snow blew in on me and stung my hands as I was always forced to eventually close the window, I would literally feel more closed in and stuck with the people who were in my life, in my apartment building.

That's not just a metaphor. And hatig having the wondows closed was a very real sign of how much I needed to not live in Illinois, regardless of the snow.
Although I am admittedly FREEZING and cranky when it's 40 degrees.
What in the world would I do if it was 11 degrees?
What would I do if I had to wear shoes and socks every day, if there was no point in the day when I could run an errand in flip flops and not get frostbite on my toes?

It's funny, another thing I've noticed is that I can be a hearty Midwestern girl out here. People here are so laid back and so casual that I qualify as a both a Type-A personality and a VERY practical Midwesterner. It's awesome to finally be seen as the kind of person that I aspired to be, that I was expected to be, and that I never ever felt like I actualized.
When I was growing up in Illinois, I was considered lazy, disorganized, and not ambitious.
I do not like feeling this way.
Why would I chose to go someplace where I spent a lifetime being criticized for being lazy and disorganized when I am currently located in a place that REWARDS me for the level of organization and stick-to-it-iveness that is innate to me?
Call it lazy but just don't forget that if the pressure is off in one area, it allows for escalation in another.
Like, I dunno.... writing every day, Derby dreams, a record label, a massive raise, and a dog.
I'm really fucking up out here... I should go back to the Midwest, for sure.

Having spent half my life without my dad, I think I am going to stick to making my decisions about where, what, and who make me happy. It's probably the best thing I can do, given that I am totally going to die and I do not want my epitaph to read, "She Lived in the Midwest her Whole Life. And She Died Cold and Alone"
At least from out here, I might just die alone but I will have lived elsewhere in my life, and it is hardly likely to be cold when I finally do kick it.

And if you are calling me and blocking your number, that's SO lame.
It's totally not necessary in this day and age; if you are a person with something to say, you should say it and if doing so results either in rage or in my unending devotion toward you than so be it. That's the risk, yo.
But for the love of Mercury, don't block your sad little number from my cell phone. You only have that number because in some way, I gave it to you, so don't abuse it.
For the record, this is one of the few times in life that I HAVE NO IDEA WHO'S CALLING. Normally, I am onto the caller and have a really educated guess. Right now.... no clue.
That's a weird feeling, too, although not as weird as having lost your dad half your life ago.

arizonasarah at 10:09 a.m.

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