The Technicalities of Buffalo, New York and Louisville, Kentucky (and Middle Born Children)

If it were possible for a human being to have a sister city, mine would be Buffalo, New York, recently featured on The Office as the location of Jim and Pam’s wedding. To remove that city from the story of my life would totally change my existence. That’s my mom’s hometown. Her family moved to Alabama in 1973 when she was 15.

That’s the thing with Italians living in the South. They haven’t been here very long. Ask an Italian living in the South and as the story unfolds it is revealed that they moved only a generation ago from somewhere in the Northeast, or Chicago, or Ohio at worst. (Southerners are English, German, Irish, Scottish, African-American, and most recently, Mexican. Any nationality outside of those is exotic.)

As I researched Wikipedia to learn how the Midwest got its name (because I was annoyed that the Midwest is not really the Midwest but instead makes up the mid-central-northern area of our country), I learned that there a few cities that though they are literally not in the Midwest, they have the culture of a Midwestern city because of their proximity to that region. These cities are Louisville, KY; Eerie and Pittsburgh, PA; and fittingly for this writing, Buffalo, NY.

I wasn’t surprised by Louisville; I’ve been there enough to know that Southern accents are not common in that city. And Eerie and Pittsburgh are close enough to Ohio for me not to question. But Buffalo caught me off guard. What makes it Midwestern as opposed to Northern?

Buffalo is sandwiched in between two of the Great Lakes- Lake Erie and Lake Ontario. Closeness to the Great Lakes is a Midwestern trait, whereas being near the Atlantic Ocean is a Northeastern trait. And because the city is removed from the too-close-for-comfort culture of New England and the Mid-Atlantic, it has a friendly reputation, more comparable to those Nebraska corn growers.

So it is confirmed, Buffalo is a technically a Midwestern city.

Last week while writing Manspeak, Volume 12, I refreshed my memory of the fascinating world of Birth Order and how it affects our personalities. Even if a person doesn’t know much about it, he or she can easily pick up on it and relate. So after explaining the basics of how it works, I always like to ask the person what they think my birth order is. Over 80 percent of the time, people guess that I’m a middle child.

Which is a great guess. The middle child often is artistic, laid-back, and had the worst trouble deciding on their college major (which I definitely did). But I’m not a middle child. I’m the first born child. I should be more uptight, more controlling, more motivated, and more aggressive. But I’m not. I live the life of a middle child.

So why, like Buffalo acting like a Midwestern city, do I act like a middle child?

I was raised by middle born parents, who also were raised by middle born parents. And my behavior is only encouraged, being that I married a middle born (who ironically was raised by two first-borns). When I am in a situation where I need to take charge, I can and I do. But what I prefer is to just go with the flow. Not surprisingly, it’s a middle born trait to analyze their identity and purpose.

Technically, Buffalo is a Midwestern city and I am a middle born child. And somehow that makes me wonder, if a sister city could have other siblings, would Buffalo would be a middle child too?



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