About this time of year I get homesick for Nebraska. I grew up there. It was always about this time of year that my mother, raised in Midvale and Orem, UT would heave out an audible sigh and say it was just about time the leaves would be changing on the mountains and how beautiful it was and how she was missing it and--now she wouldn't SAY this next part, but I just KNEW she was thinking it--how awful it was to be in this flat, boring, hot, humid state. I'll give her flat, hot, and humid, but as much as I love Utah, there are many reasons I love Nebraska, and always will:
Nebraskans are all very proud to be from Nebraska. If you ask a Nebraskan where they're from, they say it loudly and proudly--no cowardess or apology, or explanation of how they were born somewhere else and just live in Nebraska for the time being. Utahans are famous for this: "Yeah, I'm originally from California, but I moved here when I was 4." Guess what? You're 30, You're from Utah now. My husband, who has lived in Utah since he was a young boy, gets caught doing this all the time. When asked where he lives, where he's from, etc he says something like, "I was born in Bozeman," or "I've lived all over," or "I've lived mostly here, but also in Finland and England for a few years." Not a Nebraskan. Like my famous brother James (stop skimming), he even wore his Nebraska t-shirt to shows and on his album. Of course he did.
Nebraskans are generally easy-going. They don't over-plan an event or worry about what their neighbors think. They don't buy huge houses they can't afford or buy huge RV's. They hang out. They don't make a big production out of everything. They go for walks, go to clubs and bars to listen to cool music. There's a great music scene in Nebraska. They love to talk and claim ownership of everyone who has ever lived in Nebraska. They have Nebraska reunions (seriously, what other state does that in Utah?!)--that's how my sister met up with her now husband.
Nebraskans dress a certain way. Topher says he can spot it, even though he's only been there a few times, but he has a talent for such things. There are many stereotypes, here are my favorites: "the mom": short, sporty hair-cut, sweatshirt with a rolled turtleneck under it, gold chain dangling out, short pleated shorts, tennis shoes with socks to match the color of the sweatshirt. Classic. These women are known to wear sleeveless dress shirts and lots of gold jewelry. "the fan": you'll usually spot these types in airports and while on vacation. They wear head to toe Nebraska "Big Red" football crap--t-shirts with the hat with the blazer with the backpack. They have the vision, and Tom Osborne is their guide. "the pseudo-intellectual": I'm not talking about the sorority girls or frat boys, they have their own category, but I'm talking about the fashion-forwards. The sit-in-smokey-coffe-houses-and-talk-about-politics-and-poetry-and-music crowd. My sister, Pandy, was their leader for a while and definitely the best dressed of all time. I always wanted to be in that fashion category, but always seem to miss it by a gap jean or Target knock-off jacket. You can't mass-market a look, Lisa! I'll never learn.
Nebraska is home of "the Runza," fireflies, and Big Red football. These are a few of my favorite things. A "Runza" is a delightful pocket of meat and seasonings and cheese rolled up in a pillow of soft home-made bread. It is the ultimate hotpocket. I desperately craved them during all my pregnancies, but everyone thought I was "kidding" when I asked them to ship them, frozen, to me. As if I would kid about something that important. In college my roommate Wendy, a fellow Nebraskan, and I tried to make them. Imagine a homesick freshman eating crackery breaded lumps of bland ground beef. Is there a more pathetic image? and fireflies--is there another bug out there that you are really excited to catch? Have you ever smeared on on the sidewalk to make your name in fluorescent splendor? Could there be anything more magical? And I don't even like football, or organized sports, really, but it's like a religion in Nebraska, and everyone's routing for the same team (no blue versus red--you know what I'm talking about)--everyone in the entire state wears red on game days whether they go to the game or not, whether they like football or not. I like that idea of unifying a state like that.
Sigh (audible), I miss Nebraska at this time of the year with the huge, gorgeous trees changing colors, canopying over the street off 27th and Park Avenue. I miss going downtown to hear a friend's band in a small venue--music deafeningly loud, with the smell of cigarette smoke and beer all around as I sip my coke. I miss the smell of heavy air and the sound of cicadas as I talk to friends on my wide, stone, wrap-around porch. I've lived in Utah for 12 years now, but, you guys, I totally grew up in Nebraska.