I slept too late to catch my flight, a fact about which Maura was none too pleased, as she was the one banging on my apartment complex door, calling me, texting me, and generally doing everything in her power to wake me up. At the time of the event, I felt terrible, but after she spent three days guilt tripping me about it, I no longer cared. Why would I? Whatever stress she had to deal with by being two hours late for a meeting, I had dealt with myself on an exponential level for the past month as I relocated myself in haste to New York City for a new job, a new career, an abandonment of filial obligation to a parent, a dissolution of a position I’d been in charge of creating (which in the end could only be sold to Russians who could not have care less about the goal I’d been trying to achieve with the program — never mind that their business model, I learned on my second to last day there, was based entirely on lies — and never mind, I need not mention again, they were Russians) — which is to say that whoop dee doo, Maura missed a flight. I had dealt, in the past year, with stress she won’t begin to understand until she too finds herself truly rudderless, orphaned, alone in the world, an astrolabe and a weather vane at once — artificially old and useless, without exactly knowing when we all turn into such, or where to go without the stars.
We got the next flight to Milwaukee is what I’m saying. Maura took care of the travel arrangements. She’s one of my best friends. She’ll never let me live down missing that flight Monday morning, and that’s one of the reasons I so respect her.
Accents are strange things — semi-permanent, but shed, like snakeskin, with education — which I guess if we’re looking for metaphorical consistency might align with the snake’s growth, if, that is, we interpret growth in a rather broad sense, which we shall, so that I shan’t have to go back and think any more on the metaphor. That is — I, for one, took my sweet time in Montreal to get rid of my Boston accent, a brogue I’ve always felt persisted despite education. Rich Bostonians — a couple of my uncles — speak in the Boston Brahmin/Almost English Boston accent. There are differences between the North Shore and the South Shore, between Southie and Dorchester. But no matter how educated you are (save the visiting faculty at our various prestigious institutions), if you stay in Boston and you’re from Boston, there’s no escaping it. It’s your inheritance. What you choose to do with it is anyone’s business, but it cannot be denied.
Wisconsin, I suppose, and the Midwest at large from the brief times I’ve spent there is similar, if a little more clearly economically delineated to an unacosstomed ear. The janitors and tradesmen are thick and sing-song. The higher up the food chain, the lower this musicality. I met with librarians who barely carried a whiff of Whis-cahn-sin. The people at the Aloft behind the counter helping me print my boarding pass when the kiosk wasn’t working? The lady who sold me my breakfast sandwich at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, and who put her hand on Maura’s shoulder and called her “dear” or “darling” or “honey”? The asbestos cleaning team in Northern Wisconsin in a town whose name I refuse to disclose, due to professional considerations? Wisco, through and through, the lot of them. The Wisconsin accent, on second thought, isn’t altogether too different from Boston’s — as they are all really the same. The wealthiest or most privileged in general say Wisconsin. The hotel people call it Wis-cahn-sin. The lady behind the breakfast counter, the construction crew, etc, go the full “Wis-cahn-sin,” which is both disconcerting and endearing at once.
I don’t know where I was going with that.
Wisconsin is big and green and flat. Oh sure, there are hills, but they roll like my beer belly, which is to say not too, too much. Everywhere there are silos and farmland and bizarre one-of-a-kind farm vehicles, traveling well below the speed limit and pissing off everyone behind them. This countryside, so green (it bears mentioning again), is speckled with silos, which I can only presume contain milk. The milk will be pasteurized and homogenized and sent to market. The “special milk” (a term I own a copyright on, I should add) gets made into cheese, or something. I don’t really know. All I know is that it’s somewhat beautiful, and that my initial misgivings about the whole endeavor were wrong. Wis-cahn-sin is hell of a place. You should go one day.
I drove the final leg from Green Bay to Milwaukee while Maura worked on something or other in shotgun. We stopped at the top recommended place in the city for lunch and work, four hours early for the flight. A grocery co-op/coffee shop. We had coffee and I had lunch and maybe Maura paid for it all. I can’t remember.
Milwaukee is, as Maura said (and so it is to her that I owe the idea), one one of th0se places where it’s really pretty cool. But no one has gotten there yet. Except for the people who have. Have I already mentioned that within ten years Milwaukee will become the “it” scene? In the music/Pitchfork.com zone? Because it will. It will. I’ll bet you a thousand dollars.
Wisconsin is the country. Bear with it.