Friday, September 17, 2010

Growing Roots in Bloomington: Making This College Town My Home

While writing a recent blog, Celebrating Love and Home, I spent some time counting on my fingers trying to recall how many years had passed since Garry and I first met, how long we had been together and so on.  In doing so, I realized it’s almost 17 years to the day that I first moved to Bloomington as an incoming freshman at Indiana University.  Wow, I’ve been here a long time!

In the intervening years between then and now, Garry and I have lived in Bloomington for 14 of those years. One would think I have long considered myself a Bloomingtonian.  Hardly! Until very recently, I’ve always thought of my residence in Bloomington as temporary.  This might be explained by the fact that most of those 14 years either one or both of us have been enrolled at IU.  Most of the time we’ve lived in rental properties – too many! Bloomington also has a large transient population and many of our friends have moved on. Regardless, I’ve always lived here with the intention of GETTING OUT.

It’s of course obvious to me now that our tenure in Bloomington has been anything but temporary. Having abandoned a PhD program and given birth to my son in the past year makes my life in Bloomington seem ever more permanent.  It need not be, but I realize Bloomington is a good place to call home. And I’m beginning to feel that it’s something more than that.

I’ve always been stumped by the question “Where are you from?”  Well, let’s see … I was born in a city my parents didn’t live in, and I’ve lived in X, Y and Z. By the time I was 12, I had lived in five cities … though to be fair I was really too young to remember two of them. By the time I moved out of my parent’s house, the longest I had lived anywhere was six years. Consequently, the idea of a “hometown” has always held little meaning for me, and I’ve never felt strong emotional ties to any one place.  But I feel tied to Bloomington. Tied to the topography of Southern Indiana. To the flora of the area and Midwest seasonality.

It’s hard to leave Bloomington for many reasons. From our food coop and daycare coop, to the community farmer’s market and university, Bloomington is a great place to live. Cultural events, art and music abound. And though many residents will complain about the influx of students, they add a vibrancy and energy that would be missing from any other similarly sized city.

Ezra and I at the Fourth Street Festival

The likelihood that we leave Bloomington seems to be rapidly diminishing. I hold out that one day we may move (how’s that for a qualified statement?), but we have no immediate plans to do so, and so I realize we really are establishing ourselves here. I realize too by choosing to set down roots in Bloomington, I’m creating a different life for Ezra than the one I had. And that’s okay. Ezra will one day have his own list of Bloomington favorites (I hope it includes Rhino’s!), but in the meantime here’s a list of some of my favorites.

Barefoot Kids (and its online store The Green Nursery)
Bleeding Heartland Rollergirls
Bloomington Area Birth Services
Bloomington Community Farmers' Market
Bloomington Community Orchard
Bloomington Restorations Inc.
Boxcar Books
Café Django
Charles Deam Wilderness area
Green’s Bluff Nature Preserve
Kid Kazooey
Landlocked Music
Laughing Planet
Lotus Festival (the free events)
Monroe County Public Library
Max’s Place
McCormick’s Creek State Park
Runcible Spoon

1 comment:

Georgann said...

I remember the day I walked down the street and realized that Bloomington was it: this is where I live. I, too, came in 1981, for graduate school expecting to leave. My life took some unexpected turns, and now, I find myself deeply committed to this town, this community. Feels crazy once in a while, but mostly, it feels good!