I had a pretty interesting childhood when it came to geography. I spent my “childhood” years overseas – mostly in Saudi Arabia – my dad worked first for a military contractor and then for an airline in the Middle East. It was a great experience. Then, through my teenage years and now in my present adult years, I’ve grown up in Indiana.
Indiana. This is the state where you strike up a conversation with someone in the grocery line, people will still pull over to help if your car runs out of gas, and you can walk the streets of Indianapolis after 9 PM, and outside a couple of obvious areas – feel free and safe. The winters are ridiculously harsh, the weather’s unpredictable, the summers are humid enough that a simple walk from your car to the store entrance leaves you swimming in sweat, and save the small lakes peppered throughout the land and a Great Lake normally unfit to swim in- we’re landlocked and as flat as Kansas. Compared to the Coast states, states with mountains and beautiful scenery, or states with a huge capital city – we come across as dreadfully boring.
Truth is, most of us that live here, that call ourselves Hoosiers – we’re pretty darn okay about that.
Why? Much what makes our state special, our capital city unique – and Indiana what is Indiana are the hidden gems laced throughout the Midwest Heartland. It’s the people. Sure, we have things we’re proud about – the Indy 500, our Colts, our Basketball – even our rich Historical story – but all those things merely put us on the map - what those things didn’t do – what the people of Indiana so far have never allowed to happen – was it to become who we were or define Indiana.
Having lived here through some Grade School, Middle School, High School, and now my adult life raising my own family – I can say the definition of this state is about it’s people and their heritage. It’s the “Hoosier Hospitality” and the bursting pride of our way of life. You can still find towns in Indiana – within half a days drive of our capital – where you’d swear you just drove into Mayberry and Aunt Bee would have you over for a pie.
With the Superbowl on the Horizon this weekend, and media teams setup to devour “the best of Indiana” and what we have to offer – I hope only one thing. I hope those in charge of this 8-day dinner party followed by a big game do it right.
And by do it right?
I don’t mean hire someone to clean your house top to bottom, to polish the china you’d never normally use, throw the dog out back, replace the curtains, and spend too much on Wine you’d normally never budget for – all to impress.
You see, we don’t need to do anything like that. We shouldn’t do anything like that. The best thing Indiana can to show “the best of Indiana” is to just do what we do. The Superbowl for this state is an honor. A privilege. I get that.
We need to be our best.
But our best should be what makes us who we are, not how we want others to see us… That’s what New York is for. What Miami is for. New Orleans. Let them have it, that’s what they do. Not us.
Perhaps this dinner party should be more along the allegorical lines of the any-given Summer Sunday backyard cook-out; grills fired up, kids running through the sprinkler – and you offer your neighbor to come over for a beer and a Brat.
I’m hoping those visiting us see us for who we really are. Real people. Good people.
And when it’s all over and the last bus leaves to their big cities?
That’ll give them something to talk about.