Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Ritz

After my time in NYC and CT, Lance and I had a nice visit in Indiana. And my hometown in Indiana is about as far from Vegas as you can get. Bible Belt vs. Sin City. Stretch limos vs. pickup trucks. Backyard sprinklers vs. the Bellagio Fountains. And this contrast is refreshing, allowing me to recharge my batteries, relax, and reprioritize.

My hometown has a population of 3500 people, and my old high school gymnasium seats 5,000, showing the importance of basketball in Southern Indiana. The town is situated in green rolling hills among expanses of corn fields, ponds, and winding two-lane highways. Amish buggies occasionally bump along the roads, and men on tractors often block highways until they turn off toward a field with a friendly wave.

When I am back home in Indiana, I like to immerse myself in the culture. One way to do this is to go to breakfast at the local diner. The Ritz Motel has a small restaurant that serves breakfast and dinner, with specials listed on a dry erase board by the kitchen. Lance and I ate there this week during a thunderstorm, and between bites of slightly dry scrambled eggs and sausage links, I jotted down the conversations of the people around me, most of whom were men in overalls or work clothes. The first phrase that drifted over to me was “same sex marriage,” which naturally caused me to perk up my ears and intentionally eavesdrop. I also heard:

“…climb in a hayloft and fall asleep.”

“…on the prayer list at church. And they’re just the cousins of someone she knows.”


“The corn grew overnight this much!”


“…just called and said all the lights went out. Their power is out.”

“…put a can of mushroom soup on top of it. I think that would be good.”

“…a little smart car. Look at that little goober.”

“Gotta go mow a field of hay directly.”

“We’re gonna have wheel meat – you know – meat that comes in a round loaf.”

I don’t think we could have been any more immersed in the local culture than we were that morning. But we did try to do even more. We sat in on a jam session with local musicians at a Saturday morning farmers’ market. We caught fish off the pier over my uncle’s pond. Lance killed a snake for my Grandma and later helped set traps for the mouse we saw skitter across the floor of our cabin guest room. We planted flowers at Grandma’s, played ping pong in my uncle’s garage, and took morning walks to the mailbox with two overeager hound dogs. Oh, and who could forget Lance getting spit on by an old man at the farmers’ market who had bad aim with his chaw of tobacco. (I told Lance it was his initiation, but he wasn’t amused.)

It was a great three-week trip, and now I’m back home with George and headed back to the daily grind, which seems less of a grind after being gone so long. George is curled next to me as I type this, and my suitcase lies still packed on the floor next to me. Back to exploring my own local culture…

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