Friday, October 10, 2014

I have a confession to make...I am in Indianapolis and I didn't really tell anyone I was coming. Sorry, Joe & Brian & Steve and all my other beloved Indy friends, this is a quick trip and I am being selfish. And yes, I told Pete we should arrange a Purdue reunion this year and am going sans my old roomie; had to do it braaaaaa!
I came home to visit my folks, my brother, sister, and their families and to catch the #Purdue - Michigan State football game tomorrow. I'm sorry I didn't make plans and try to arrange visits. Simply put, I'm exhausted and need a break and this weekend is just what the doctor ordered.
It's been 14 months since my last visit, the longest time I've ever been away from my home town and family. Today we drove through Broad Ripple and I got to see one of my most favorite people, Karen Van der Walle at her studio, The Potter's House. We drove downtown and had lunch at Shapiro's.
Then headed over to Mass Avenue and shopped (after surprising my niece Tara at work). I then got to pop into Curt Churchman's Fine Estate Rugs & Gallery at Kessler and College. He's done an amazing job with that space and his ode to TC Steele gallery is top notch.
Every time I come home I get a little anxiety the first few days. I recognize things less, I know less people (or see less of the people I know), and I feel sad at not living here or being closer to people I love. This time the anxiety is a little stronger and can't quite figure out why. Maybe because it has been 14 months, or maybe I am just getting older in a city that feels like it is finally getting cooler. Whatever the reason, Indianapolis seems different to me...some observations:
- It's huge. Okay, I know I've adjusted to life in a small town of 60,000 but my goodness this town seems to have exploded with growth. Not just new stuff being built but old things being refurbished and entire neighborhoods coming back to life in all their glory. There are people and cool places in every direction.
- It's much more hip. Wow, cool restaurants, shops, and even BIKE LANES abound.  While I'm not ready to take my life in my hands and ride down Keystone Avenue, I am really stoked by the realization by City leaders and community activists that vibrant cities are ones that address and respect bike-ped transportation and allow for greater connectivity in their communities by adding bike lanes and trails. Also, parks add so much to the quality of life and it is nice to see some revitalization of these really important places where people connect and children get some of the most important type of play opportunities.
- People drive fast as $hit. Again, I get that after 12 years of living in Missoula I have slowed my pace quite a bit (I love that about Missoula by the way), but driving 55mph on Allisonville and 80 on 1-465 seems silly to me, but that is pretty much the norm. I don't really like that (but my 16 - 20 year old self would have loved it for sure).
- Carmel, Fishers, and Westfield are all grown up. Tonight I went to watch my 13yo niece's choral presentation in Carmel. We drove up north on the Keystone corridor with all it's roundabouts and above/below grade crossings and inward growth down town. Super cool. And it doesn't look like the Carmel of 1981...I saw people from all races and walks of life on the stage and in the audience; it was super impressive (as was the singing. Absolutely great performance of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah"
by the #Carmel boys choir). We drove by the Center for Performing Arts and I felt like I was in DC or something.
- Fall in Indiana is still breath taking. I think I am about 8 days early to get the trees in all their most brilliant colors but it is still so so beautiful. I can't wait for the drive up to West Lafayette tomorrow to see all the colors along the Wabash River corridor. Maybe I can convince my Dad to take HWY 52 tomorrow so we can drive by some of the small towns and cornfields. This time of year always reminds me of warm days and the smell of leaves burning and cold nights and the smell of bonfires.
- Downtown is a vibrant, busy place and people really live and play there. Indianapolis struggled for decades to create a downtown that was more than a place people came to work or watch professional sports. Over the past 10 years, downtown has changed so much I hardly recognize it anymore. Coffees shops, brew-houses, condos, high rises, incredible restaurants and shopping opportunities. No wonder so many conventions are held in this city. Totally impressed
- People are still friendly (Hoosier hospitality is alive and well). So glad to see that despite my home town growing so, people are still nice an courteous.

Looking forward to visiting Purdue tomorrow and to strolling through campus. I am quite certain a flood of memories will be unleashed.
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