A recent Gallup poll rated the state I live in as the most miserable in the nation. The rate of obescity is the second highest in the nation. This is true, when I was younger I started traveling I was surprised at seeing so many adults who were thin, I had always previously thought that weight gain was an unavoidable part of growing up. The rate of cancer is third highest in the nation. Grey chemical plants spew strange chemicals into the water and babies are sometimes born with their brains on the outside of their heads. We have the highest rate of coronary artery disease in the country. Our average income is low, and 2 in 10 people have less education than a high school diploma.
This state also has the highest rate of strippers of them all. The drugs are lousy compared with more industrialized places, but they are abundant. Most people are on pills these days and will steal from you if you let them. But they smile and have interesting stories. Most stick together like a dysfunctional family, fighting and loving and living with inebriated passion.
I understand this place but it still does not feel like home. I got out for a while, living in distant cities where there are Starbucks on every corner, elaborate sprinkler systems and bathroom attendants, but in time the wellfare city sucked us back into it's fold. In time we may escape again. I apologize to my son for throwing him into such a mad world. You have to swim or you will sink, and I pray you feel less alien than I did.
Yesterday I went to the liquor store and a bearded punk staggered out of the bathroom complaining about how people are slobs. After purchasing cheap whiskey with wadded up bills he loudly proclaimed to myself and the others in the store (who were all old women)
"It's my birthday. Now, say Happy Birthday Richie".
The old ladies smiled and said happy birthday all at once and he said "Thanks. Now, I'm off to stick it to the man." And he fell out the door, rolling along the sidewalk while balancing his bottle along his shoulder like a mad juggler. Life is like that here, full of strange and twisted moments. How are things where you live?
There can be beauty in ugliness. There can be joy hiding on the outskirts of misery. And eating too many hot dogs from gas stations can kill you. Learn those lessons well and you can thrive anywhere.