Normal is Only a Setting on the Washing Machine

Aunt Frances Owens: “My darling girl, when are you going to realize that being normal is not necessarily a virtue? It rather denotes a lack of courage!”

On our adventure across country, Dani and I stopped in Normal, Illinois. It looked quiet from a distance, but the closer we got, the more chaotic and noisy it was.

And I’m not just talking about the noise you hear, but also the noise you see and feel.

When you’ve spent a year in the Midwest… where you can leave your front doors and your cars unlocked and where you can leave your outgoing packages by the mailbox… and no one steals anything… it’s a huge culture shock driving across the Iowa/Illinois border.

For the days preceding that cross of the boarder, Dani and I had traveled through beautiful country side, on a fairly straight two lane highway. In fact we hadn’t seen a high-rise in over 13 months, when we left Baltimore.

And the traffic along those highways was minimal.

It’s difficult to explain the feeling of panic that hit me when, just after the speed limit dropped from 85 to 65 immediately, I saw the cloverleaf highway patterns full of vehicles with towering buildings behind them.

That was the moment I realized I am not a city dweller.

There’s nothing more eye opening than coming from a quiet part of the country where people are friendly and helpful and entering a state where we only met 3 kind people (all minorities, the Caucasians were the nastiest of the bunch) and realizing that things were getting ready to change and you weren’t ready for them to.

I miss my life in the Midwest. I’ll never go back to Montana again, but there’s definitely something different out there from the east coast. If you haven’t been, don’t try to tell me that the bad stuff that happens here happens all over because it doesn’t.

People are different here. You can pass a hundred people in the street and not one will make eye contact.

Out there, you probably won’t pass a hundred people in the street in a day, but I’ll guarantee that if you did most of them would make eye contact and many would smile.

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