Sunday, October 6, 2013

Begin at the begin

I'm not a summer person. I burn too easily and bitch too loudly when it's hot and I'm sweaty. But neither am I particularly into winter. I freeze too easily, hate snow and bitch too loudly when my ears get frostbitten and fall off. That means I'm happy less than, oh, ten days a year, when it's temperate in the Chicago metropolitan area.

If you're not familiar with it, the climate here is hot and humid in the summers (though the past couple have been good to us = global warming), fairly snowy and occasionally arctic in the winter (ditto = global warming).

Aside from the rapidly escalating crime in the inner city, it's probably as decent a metro area to live in as any, because aren't they pretty much all the same? The touristy and business part of the city are pretty. Lots of museums, impressive architecture and pretty neighborhoods. But that's if you can afford getting there, from the boonies. The train's expensive, parking criminally so. Or should be but Chicago's not that big on criminalizing.

Where we are, in the far-flung Fox River Valley area, it's pleasantly hilly, which is the positive. For negatives, the traffic's hell, the school system misappropriates money faster than you can say budget reform and no one in our neighborhood makes eye contact. When we moved here there were maybe two families with kids in our age within walking distance. Now that we're aging, two of our three kids legally adults, the old people are dying off and young families finally moving in.

Timing. It's everything.

As for downtown charm and community feel? Low and dropping lower by the day, as businesses change hands and a poorly planned condo complex sits empty about four years after construction began.

Nobody home.

Looks good, doesn't it? Only, it sat open to the elements for a couple years, held up by both legal problems and the small problem no one wanted to actually live there, and harbors who knows what nasty, growing things. It's also on the corner of Traffic from Hell and No Outlet.

Quality of living index in our suburb? I'd say four to five out of ten, on a good day.

I never meant to live in the suburbs. Or drive a mini-van. Or even wind up staying in the U.S. When I was young and stupid idealistic,  I vaguely imagined a writer's life, where money would fall from the sky. I'd live in Britain or France, somewhere oozing culture and history. Money for essentials would come, somehow. Details. Mere details.

Fame and fortune? Yes and yes. All without my having to do much of anything but exist, with the potential for doing something really cool in the future. At least that's what I can gather, based on fuzzy data you'd expect from an English major. If it ain't iambic pentameter, it's beyond my comprehension.

I graduated with a B.A. in English literature from what was Rosary College in River Forest, IL and is now Dominican University. I got a well-rounded Liberal Arts education, which I thought was marketable as hell. I was almost right. No way in hell was it marketable.

Then marriage happened and a string of secretarial jobs. Then children. Ultimately, life in the suburbs, stretching out in front of me as far as I can see. Life from which I can only dream I'll escape between now and my dotage, when I'll probably slip on my medieval stone pathway and break a hip on the way to the market for tea and fresh crumpets.

But I will die knowing I made it, man. I made it.

In reality, I went for my Master's in Library and Information Studies, right around the time libraries started to tank. So now I'm an unemployed, peri-menopausal mother of three, fortunate to be married to someone who generates income. Stuck in the suburbs, living the American dream. It's all just so romantic, I don't know where to start.

Here seems like as good a place as any.

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