Postcard from The Region

27 Mar

With the title of today’s post, one might think I’m in a no man’s zone or some sort of apocalyptic area of the world, but really, I’m in Northwest Indiana.

Then again, with all of the news about Indiana’s esteemed governor promoting discrimination, that might be an apt description of this place.

Having grown up in this area of the world, I was used to it being called the Calumet Region, but when I got to college downstate, I quickly learned that I was a Region Rat from “The Region.” Region Rats were different, they weren’t from the rest of Indiana, which is true. Chicago radio, television and politics. Central time. Many more professional sports teams. The steel industry and oil refineries. Fewer farms. When I was in college, most of the state didn’t observe Daylight Savings Time, so I constantly had to remember whether my 10:00PM was their 10:00PM, because I could (and should) phone home after then, since that’s when long distance prices went down.

Needless to say, being the “and Northwest Indiana” part of “Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana” (a phrase heard in many a commercial) also meant that we really didn’t belong to Chicago either. We were good enough for cheap gas and cigarettes, but come Sunday, you stay in Illinois to buy booze (when I first moved to Chicago, the concept of buying liquor on Sundays was amazing….though by the time I moved to Massachusetts, I found it constraining to make me wait until midday to buy it).

It’s kind of funny to come back to The Region every now and then. It’s familiar, but every time I’m back, there’s something different about the place–usually a new strip mall and more traffic. And the longer I’m away, the less I’ve ever belonged. When you’re talking about no longer belonging to a place that also doesn’t belong, it’s a strange, strange feeling.

At any rate, I’m here to celebrate my annual college girls’ weekend, where a couple of buddies from college and I hang out for the weekend and don’t do much of anything beyond talking, eating and drinking. We have a nice rental house to enjoy, and I’m looking forward to our traditional marvelous weekend of being lazy. Though we’re somewhat separated by geography (I’m in Massachusetts; they’re in different parts of Indiana), being with them is one of the places where I do belong.

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