Less than two hours after leaving La Guardia, I de-planed in frigid Milwaukee just in time to catch a very important announcement over the PA.
"Excuse me! If you are, um, a young woman, with kind of a brownish wool coat, you left your Walmart shopping bag at the Starbucks near the center of the terminal. We're holding it for you at the Starbucks so come on back over here! Thank you, so sorry to interrupt! Have a great night!"
I actually paused to stare, dumbfounded, at the loudspeaker.
Milwaukee is a gem of a city tucked along the banks of Lake Michigan, about 90 miles north of Chicago in southwestern Wisconsin. New Yorkers, I found, are entirely unaware of its location on the globe and why anyone would possibly bother visiting. Their blank or slightly concerned stares when I had mentioned I was planning on making the trip were nothing short of hilarious.
"It's like, freezing there, right? It's like up near Canada? I mean... what will you do there?"
I guess it is pretty cold.
I had spent about six years here, college and then some, and was back in town for the first time in years to visit a friend from school. It's a beautiful little city, filled with phenomenal dive bars, staunchly loyal Packer fans, surprisingly great restaurants and some of the most wonderfully kind people I've ever met.
They are so polite. They are kind and funny and encouraging. They apologize when they bump into you, and hold the door every time. Apparently, they return your shopping bag when you leave it at the Starbucks at the airport.
We packed so much into 48 hours - tapas, sangria, bikram yoga, pancake brunch, sports bars, Marquette basketball, dinners, a Mardi Gras parade at the Hofbräuhaus and at least six hours at the piano bar, fawning over some hottie piano player like a couple of MU co-eds. It was a fabulous little bite-sized vacation that left me longing to find a way to stay wrapped in the comfortably warm words and gestures of midwesterners.
Upon returning to NYC and settling into my staycation week, I ran up to the gym for a yoga class. I made sure to get there super early so I could sit for a while in silence, get my breath in check for the class. Weekday workout bonus - spotted Dakota Fanning on the rowing machines with her trainer, squee!
My silence was delicious and lasted approximately two seconds, until another woman joined me - a woman who, apparently, had set up one of the gym's yoga mats for herself at least a half hour prior to class starting and then left, and was FURIOUS to find that it had been removed by the cleaning crew. This woman was in about her mid-sixties and threw a legit temper tantrum right there in the yoga studio, with me as her only audience. My jaw dropped as she screamed at me for at least five full minutes - she didn't understand how ANYONE could POSSIBLY be so INEPT and just COMPLETELY STUPID as to move her mat. This is the LAST THING she FUCKING NEEDED, they were always RUINING her DAY. JUST FUCKING RUINING IT. And then she set up a new mat (which took approximately four seconds) and stomped off to talk to a manager about the inadequacies of the maintenance crew.
In a yoga class. I'm not joking.
My New Yorker friends tell me I'm too polite, why am I always apologizing, I need to be more confrontational, I'm so naïve. They are so in charge, they are so empowered. They've looked at this situation and decided that there is something wrong with me, that I am the one who needs to re-evaluate her interpersonal skills.
You know what's empowering? The high you get from interacting with pleasant people all day long. Isn't there enough rage in the world without needing to scream out every person who touches your yoga mat?