The first time I ever realized I was from the Midwest was I was sitting in a room, surrounded by New Yorkers, and I squealed when I saw two cows kissing one another. Cows are cute. I like flannel. Soda will ALWAYS be called pop to me. You can kick the boy out of the Midwest, but goddamn, is that buttermilk ranch flavored force within him strong as heck.
As a boy who grew up near Cheese Factory Road, so many things take getting used to here. In Wisconsin, the road is littered with cheese shops, like the Cheese Maus Haus or Cheese Chalet. I always thought the Cheese Chalet was a hotel, and like how the Doubletree places cookies under your pillow, I assumed they gave you a wheel of cheese, in true Wisconsin tradition. For the record, the cheese here is awful, but I also thought Minneapolis had terrible cheese too. Butter costs about the same in both metropolises—a whopping 6 bucks. Giving up dairy was no problem here after seeing that. Of course, I relapse, for I bleed whole milk, the cow is in my veins. I’m not a robot, I will eat the most important dairy of all: ice cream.
You must be sitting there thinking, wow he hates NYC. No, don’t get it twisted, because New York City is legitimately magical, marvelous, and magnificent (and any other synonymous m word you can think of), but is it Minnesconsin? You bet your sweet bippy it’s not. I can’t get cheese curd and beef stick pizza here in the Big Apple. My abundance of cows on the sides of roads have been replaced by bodega cats and rats alike.
Obviously, I’m still pretty fresh into New York, so obviously it’s going to take some time to become well adjusted and bitter like the rest of the city, but as reminders of my roots, firmly planted in less polluted, Midwestern soil, I keep a few reminders around.
Mostly the cheese. I have blocks of frozen cheese in my freezer. I kid you not, the day I was scouted to model and got called fat, I took my cheeses and put them in the freezer. I look at them and remember their caresses fondly. There was this time where I had my cheese repossessed by the TSA–I’m so glad that my tax dollars are funding cheese deprivation.
One of my reminders of home is a pennant by Gitchi Adventure Goods, and definitely part of the reason people seem to think I’m Minnesotan and not a Wisconsin-born lad. I won’t lie–99% of the reason I go with that lie is because Scott Walker is the worst and I don’t want any affiliation there… but thankfully, they voted him out and are onto better things (at least we pray). The plus to the pennant? 10% of proceeds go to conservation efforts to keep the north cold (which hasn’t been difficult considering the polar vortex sweeping through)
Secondly, my mom’s home number is on speed dial. For those of us that don’t know me all too well, my mom is one of my best friends.
Thirdly, I keep a photograph of me, my grandmother, and brother on my door for a little bit of inspiration. She always knew I’d achieve greatness, so keeping her photograph there reminds me daily of the faith she held in me, and that I too should be just as proud. The photograph is the header and was her last birthday we spent together as a family.
Of course, you really just can’t knock the Midwest out of me–I’m 6’2″ and the whitest kid in the room anytime I walk into an audition. People have the tendency to think I’m foreign, but in essence, they are correct. I’m from the weirdest country of all–they talk with funny accents and wave at strangers. They find joy in lutefisk and smelt boils, and are wholly content hunched over a hole in the ice to catch a fish in the dead of winter. You can’t tell me you could see a New Yorker doing that with a straight face.
Every day here gets easier. It’d be great if I could get all fat and sassy off cheese and dessert, but your boy heads into model market at the end of April, despite being a touch older than everyone and 10 pounds heavier.
Until then, I’ll be sweatin to the Ellie Gouldings and trying not to stab someone from withdrawals.