Wendy Cartwright: Midwest wonders: Where I’m from


By Wendy Cartwright

Guest columnist

I was thinking tonight about the fact that I meet a lot of new people.

I travel quite often, and the places I go always require me to introduce myself. I enjoy sharing the experiences from my life with others, but there is always a subject that is tough to convey. It might not occur to most people that we, from the rural Midwest, have a hard time explaining where we live.

When I go to Michigan, I hear people explain locations by where they are on their hand or using the analogy of the “mitten.” This is due to the shape of the state, of course. Some folks in Indiana can relay their address in terms of a boot, but that really only helps if you live in Evansville.

I have asked people if they know where Seymour is. “You know… Where John Mellencamp grew up.” That generally doesn’t help. Most people know of him and may have heard of Seymour, but they don’t have any idea of its relative location.

For a short time, I attempted to use Columbus as a landmark because of its size and popularity, but everyone assumed I meant the capital of Ohio. I stopped doing that.

Many states have the luxury of having more than one good-sized city or popular destination that residents can use in their descriptions. We Hoosiers have Indianapolis, and it’s smack dab in the middle. Relating to it can help, but there are many miles in all directions. Saying that I live southeast of our capital city doesn’t say much.

So I’ve found it’s easiest to describe my hometown in terms of two or even three cities. I tell the people I meet that I live halfway between Indianapolis and Louisville, Kentucky. I also throw in the fact that it’s an equal distance from my house to both cities as well as Cincinnati, Ohio.

I suppose people in Lafayette have the same issue. I lived there for a couple of years while in college, but not as a permanent resident. I’m sure they start by saying they live near Purdue. While a very popular university, I wonder if the average person really knows where it is. Residents probably resign themselves to saying they live halfway between Indianapolis and Chicago. So it is.

As I sit here in North Vernon, halfway between Indianapolis and Louisville, I can’t help but smile. It’s my little slice of heaven. I’m in the country surrounded by a fish and wildlife area. To be honest, I’m not even in North Vernon, but the post office says I am so that I can get mail. It’s just easier that way.

Wendy Cartwright hails from the North Vernon area and has lived there most of her life. She is 43 years old. She has a love of sharing her thoughts on growing up in the Midwest and other stories from her life. She spends her days reading and writing in the home she shares with her husband and chihuahua. Send comments to [email protected].

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