Friday, April 15, 2011

Living in Minnesota

In the movie The Shawshank Redemption there is a scene where Red is describing how Andy broke out of prison. The secret to tunneling through a prison wall for Andy's escape was "pressure and time." He might as well have been describing the process of trying to make close friends in Minnesota.

There is a lot I like about living in Minnesota. I love the many sporting event options (especially the Twins), the incredible restaurants and generally the pleasant nature of the people. There are many job options (21 Fortune 500 companies), and the people here are normally very hardworking. Also, the state's does a great job of providing for the public with excellent public schools, parks and city services. That is a huge advantage Minnesota has over my home state of Mississippi.

However, there are some things about Minnesota that I could be improved upon. I read this excellent article by Susanna Daniel on slate.com called Living in the Midwest. She was writing about her life in Madison, Wisconsin, but a lot of what she wrote easily could have described my life in Minnesota. I recommend you read the entire thing, but below are some of the highlights:
  • She and her husband have a spreadsheet with "Things We Like" and "Things We Don't Like" about the Midwest. This could easily be M and I.
  • Her line "Midwesterners are, true-to-reputation, kind and friendly, but they aren't particularly warm" was something that I think about often.
  • "Which means they exist comfortably at a certain remove that can take years - and I mean years - to breach." That is what I meant by pressure and time.
  • She talks about how a newspaper article referred to her as a "recent transplant" despite living there for 10 years and having a married someone from Madison. Being considered an outsider is definitely something I can feel despite having lived in Minnesota for 6 years.
The article is something that really resonated with me. I enjoy living in Minnesota. The pros outweigh the cons. I just wish that it would be easier to get closer friends. It isn't that I don't like the people here, but I just don't think they like me as much. In Mississippi if I enjoyed someone's company then I would have no problem spending day after day with the same people. When I go back to Mississippi, it isn't an effort to hang out with these people since I know we will see each other as much as possible. In Minnesota, I feel like I have allocate and rationalize my friendship differently. The idea of spending day after day with the same person here probably would scare off almost all of my local friends.

Right before I moved to Minnesota, I visited Minneapolis on a apartment hunting tour. I vividly remember reading a local magazine about "Minnesota Nice." The article described the unique nature of trying to become friends with Minnesotans that I would like to end this post on:

Minnesotans are extremely nice people. When asked, they will be more than happy to give you directions - to any place expect their their house.

3 comments:

Jenny said...

As a born and bred Minnesotan, I see it. Having not lived anywhere else, though, I can't see the other side.

I think something in our midwestern genes selected for people who were okay seeing their neighbors once a week or less. Despite the fact that we no longer live on farmland acres apart from each other, that mentality still exists. We do our thing, you do yours.

I'm not sure M really knows this (I suppose she will now) but of all my friends, I see her the most. This is because she has done a great job of insisting on it. I like that.

Pressure isn't the right word, I like consistency.

mary said...

Jenny, I did not know I see you the most, but it makes me so happy that you make time for me!

kevin, I know it's a big change from the south. But I think you have an exceptionally warm group of friends/ family down there. I can't help but wonder, if I moved to the south unattached, would I get a MN nice welcome?

Nancy said...

Just catching up on your blog, Kevin. I think you should both move to CA with Nicholas and me and we can hang out every day!! :) Bike rides, road trips, sporting events, you name it.