Well, I’ve properly welcomed myself to Nappanee. Rather, I’ve been properly welcomed by my roommate, who has graciously treated me to a driving tour of Nappanee and even introduced me the local frozen delicacy of Rocket Science Ice Cream (ice cream made using liquid nitrogen).
Here are the new digs:
The apartment is one of the bright spots in my move to Middle-Of-Nowhere, Indiana.
Nappanee is iconic small-town America. Smiling white people serve grandpas and lil kids their soda floats. It’s real. However, the uniqueness of the town lies in its heavy Amish and Mennonite population. (Wait, I mean: … Nappanee is heavily-populated with Amish and Mennonites.)
Many locals businesses and business owners have common (and recognizably Amish) German surnames. (Interesting culture factoid: a fixation with last names is not peculiar to Amish and Mennonites. One of my classmates at OSU mentioned the importance of last names in her own Jewish community. She described how her mother is always on the lookout for young men with Jewish-sounding last names (Goldberg, Levy, Silverstein), and when she finds one, she’ll say, “Oh look! You could marry him! HE’S Jewish!”)
I’m trying to get a feel for the place. Amish grandmas in crocs and covering strings march across Main Street. Amish grandpas coast their bicycles past the hardware store. Amish teenage girls slap the reins of a rig at a railroad crossing. And Amish boys in baggy gray pants and beanies race their bikes down the sidewalk. (I saw one earlier today, and I’m like, “What a POSER.” Then I realized he was Amish, not part of some gang. LOL!)
I’m sure I’ll get used to this community, but at this point, I’m very touristy.
Today, I also got a library card and picked up some books about Miami Indians. (Apparently, they used to live here. Betchya didn’t know THAT, did ya?!)
Much of the printed “history” about Nappanee “begins” with the Amish settling around mid-nineteenth century. However, Nappanee was obviously populated long before that era, but unfortunately, that history is not recorded in our history books. (Don’t you love how “history” doesn’t begin until white people settle in an area?) Anyway, I thought I would do the culturally appropriate thing by reading up on the Miami Indians, from whom we get all these wonderful local place names: “Nappanee,” “Wakarusa,” “Shipshewana,” and “Wanee.” I’ll let you know if I come across anything shocking in my research. (AND I’ll let you know if I meet an Indian.)
Until then, mainly… and basically… I spend my time sneaking donuts from my own pantry.
This out-of-state move is also requiring me to learn a new skill: cooking.
This photograph, of course, doesn’t quite express the the chaos of pots boiling over, large flames, crunchy rice, and a broken jar of beans. But. I ate it. Just like I downed the “Explorer’s Temptation” sandwich at the famous local “Rise and Roll Bakery” the other day. (You can’t move to a new place and NOT try a sandwich with a name like that. It was ham and swiss on cinnamon raisin bread with raspberry jam. Believe it.)
What an adventure! And it’s only Day 2! 🙂