I am in Minnesota for a whole week, and it's been a rather eye-opening experience. I was born and raised here for 23 years and I am an only child, so when I come home to visit it is just to spend a bit of time with my parents and the few friends that I have kept in contact with since moving to California four years ago. This visit was carefully scheduled to coincide with the MN State Fair, a food extravaganza unlike any other. It's pretty ridiculous how much fried food this fair has. If you think your fair compares, you really have no idea. The MN State Fair is absolutely enormous.
While here, I've been noticing just how much I don't fit in here. Not just within the state culture, but also within my own family. My mom and dad are both very much consumed by alcoholism. Their only hobbies include drinking - such as going to the bar with their friends, going to car shows, and playing darts/beanbags at bars. They both come home from work and begin drinking immediately and continue until bedtime, knocking back 6 beers each easily, sometimes more. My mom becomes incoherent and insufferable while she's drunk to the point where I don't want to be anywhere near her. Before I moved away, this was a major source of contention between us. She always feels like I am judging her, and I always feel like she puts her addictions ahead of her family. It's hard to tell who she really is anymore -- the alcoholism and her escalating and untreated mental health issues have consumed her and drowned out the personality that I used to know. And my dad, well, he's always been a conservative white dude. Since being here three days he has railed against fat people, against blacks, against people who ride bicycles, and against poor people. He's only 50 too, so it's not like he's an 80 year old man stuck in his ways.
I can't deny that I have changed. Since moving to CA, I found feminism, grew up a lot and became independent, started to become a fierce ally for LGBT issues, realized that I am pansexual, and started to live the diversity of culture. While I'm here, I feel like I don't fit in. I notice just how white the MN State Fair is and what a monoculture it is. Minneapolis was recently heralded for beating out San Francisco as the gayest city in the United States, but there is a definite divide between the two Twin Cities. St. Paul is a more conservative and traditional city, and of course it's where my parents live.
I really love California. It's not perfect, and it's certainly a hell of a lot more expensive, but I feel like it's worth it just for the diversity and the culture that is missing here in Minnesota. I have 4 more days to try to get along with my parents. I hope I make it!