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[Easy Chair]

On the Corner of Myth and Main

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There was a time when I didn’t know that I lived in Middle America. When I was very young, growing up in eastern Minnesota, I thought I was just an American — how sweet — and that I existed at the center of everything, not in some sort of gap between two more important places. I also didn’t know my class, which was “middle” as well. “Upper” was barely present in my town, and “lower” was simply “poor” — it was a condition, not a category. Poverty was visible everywhere: the farmhouses without plumbing, the old men in old coats trudging along the highways, the kid on my school bus who wore socks as mittens.

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