Except for the years between 1983 and 1987, when the U.S. Army sent me to all types of delightful locales, I have lived in Indiana my entire life. From the rocky beaches of the Arctic Ocean to Hawaii’s bays and North Shore in winter, I have experienced some of our planet’s most beautiful landscapes. But for me, Hoosier born and bred, nothing beats an October full moon rising over ripe fields awaiting harvest. Nights spent slowly driving country roads in the heat of the summer, listening to classic rock and smelling the humid corn growing tall, are seared into my brain, providing eternal links to a thousand great memories that I will carry with me forever.
Indiana is Little League and pick-up trucks, grandparents honking their horns as they sit outside the fences to escape the hard bleachers and bugs, the sound of their excitement piercing the warm evening air as kids run to stretch doubles into triples. Indiana is cold November mornings spent shivering in deer stands, young hunters praying for a trophy while the old folks dream of the warm bed they’ve left behind to accompany their children and grandchildren in the chase for elusive whitetails. Indiana is the breakfast restaurant, a place that closes after the lunch hour, but nobody minds because the biscuits and gravy are a bit of heaven and you’ve seen a score of friends before drinking your second cup of coffee.
Indiana is pitching in to help strangers change a flat tire without asking about their sexual orientation. Indiana is coming home to find bags of groceries just inside your unlocked front door a few days after your mom or dad gets a seasonal layoff notice down at the shop. Indiana is people considerate and kind enough to buy and deliver those groceries, and nobody asks what happens in your bedroom before they bring them over.
There are bigots in Indiana, but not very many, not anymore. We’ve labored beside too many people called minorities who work their butts off and follow the rules like we do to believe you can label entire groups. We’ve seen too many people with our own cultural traits descend into abuse and poverty, seemingly content to rotate from welfare to prison and back again. We know we are living in the 21st Century. We have the internet and Smart Phones, although those phones sure seem to encourage some of our fellow Hoosiers to do stupid things like sending pictures of their private parts to their friends, and sometimes strangers. New York has Anthony Wiener, we have Bubba Junk.
So, yes, sometimes it can be embarrassing to be from Indiana, mainly when our elected representatives do incredibly stupid things. Having the lowest voter turnout in the nation for the 2014 election cycle is a legitimate cause for Hoosier shame. But Indiana is a beautiful place, mostly populated by genuinely nice people. Our current state politicians may have little regard for the will of Indiana’s citizens (obvious case-in-point: Glenda Ritz), but, fortunately, time marches on.