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Friday July 8, 2005 // By Sandy

The Indy city

It’s a good thing my family likes Sarah so much. Because they do—and how could they not?—she has an easier time getting along with them, despite their innumerable idiosyncracies and dysfunctions. Sometimes she even gets along better than I do, which you may think would lead to resentment, but in fact leads merely to my being able to surf the Internet at my grandmother’s house while Sarah chit-chats in the kitchen.

We spent much of the last week in Indianapolis, my home town. Sarah, the sweetheart that she is, has already accompanied me down there many times. She’s beginning to know the town like she never expected she would. For so many who grow up in Chicago, Sarah included, Indiana is merely that flat space that I-90 goes through on its way to the east coast. Not for me, and now, against all expectations, not for Sarah. As much as I criticize Indiana for its banality—and sure, it deserves it—I do still find something very charming and comforting about going home. The city itself is turning into a cookie cutter metropolis, but there are pieces of my childhood buried here and there, pieces that I force Sarah to help me seek out every time we go down.

This last trip involved a visit to both of my childhood homes, though our tours didn’t involve anything more than what a Jehovah’s Witness might see; in both cases, our doorbelling was met with only silence. We drove by the high school and library, both growing ever larger and foreign-looking. We spent a day at the zoo and an evening at the Art Museum’s back terrace, watching "Yankee Doodle Dandy"—two places I learned to appreciate only into my senior year. We cruised around Broadripple, a common getaway from the ennui of teenage suburbia, though I was quickly reminded how much of a toker hangout it is at night, and I certainly didn’t have any part of that crowd.

Someone told me recently that they thought Indianapolis was a great place to live, but they’d hate to have to visit. Seems backwards to me. Spend too much time in Indy, and I’d have to claw my eyes out. There are clumps of personality among the wide streets and subdivisions, but they’re too spread out. Indy would be much more attractive if it was packed into a space three-quarter its size. Put in some bike lanes and a decent public transit, and then we’ll talk. Until then, I’ll stick to my long-weekend visits—just the right amount of time to make me nostalgic, without making me feel I’m cheating on my current lover, Chicago.

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