Saturday night there was a storm so violent the entire building shook and woke us all. The humidity had been terrible, and when we woke to sunshine the next day and stepped out of the air-conditioning people here keep running seven months out of the year, it was no better. It finally broke today for no apparent reason. I was informed it had no correlation to the previous rain.
Too much humidity in New England means a storm is coming; too much humidity in Kentucky means you are here between the months of March and October. A cool day in a New England summer is nature’s way of reminding you that the season is short, and fall is coming, and winter is long and full of terrors. A cool summer day in Kentucky is confusing and unnatural. The poor locals. They seem offended.
There is so much space in the midwest and the south. While there are long and unpopulated stretches of Massachusetts, New York, and the east coast, they are stretches, outliers and aberrations, disruptions in otherwise crowded landscapes, deliberate room to breath. Here, there just is space, as though everyone simply has enough room, and if you don’t, move a few minutes out of town; space, and plenty more where that came from. The grocery stores are enormous, the size of several city blocks in Manhattan, every one of them. For less than what I paid in New York City for a bedroom and shared bath, we have a two bedroom condo with two bathrooms, a living room, an office, and a kitchen big enough to hold a full-size table. The greater complex has a two pools and a tennis court. I can’t make sense of it. I have been here since October and every time I sit on my balcony – balcony! are you kidding me! – I can’t help but think I’m on vacation, travelling from Point A to Point B and staying at one of those nondescript motels between, a Best Western or a Holiday Inn. But no. People really live like this. I – I – I really live like this.
To most people who grew up North of the Mason-Dixon Line – to me, even now, if I’m being honest – everything in the middle of the map, those fly-over states ranging ruggedly and mysteriously from West Virginia to Tennessee to Arkansas to Kansas, might as well be labelled, “Here There Be Dragons.” And even if people are about the same everywhere – rude, if on different topics; loving, if having different socially ingrained ways of expressing it; considerate and difficult and grouchy before their coffee and sometimes after their coffee by turns – even if people really are pretty much the same everywhere, and even if the busy road running by my place here isn’t terribly unlike Route 1 through Dedham, Mass, even if Target and Walmart and Starbucks and McDonald’s have the same menu in every state in the Union, yes, still, it’s true; everything is different and Here There Be Dragons. I will study them at length and send detailed notes. It will not be difficult. In addition to steady internet access and the services of the United States Postal Service, both FedEx and UPS, as well as Amazon and eBay, call Kentucky home for their largest shipping centers. Did you know it is fastest to get anywhere in the US from Kentucky? Now you know. It’s travel by dragon. Fastest way to fly.