It's been over a month now since moving to the suburbs and starting at St. Timothy. The last weeks have gone by quickly - it's funny to me that each week feels like a countdown to Sunday, especially weeks when I'm preaching, and how short my weeks feel since Fridays are my day off.
Home is starting to feel like home, and my bed is starting to feel like my bed, and my morning routine is beginning to feel like my morning routine. The apartment still feels unfamiliar in a number of ways, probably because I don't actually spend much time in it when I'm not sleeping. These past few months have had their share of meetings and evening responsibilities, so I don't see nearly as much of the apartment as I might otherwise.
In the last two weeks, I've purchased both a bike (for fun) and a new car (out of necessity!), and somehow those purchases have helped me to feel grounded, as if they somehow represent purchases that you don't make when you're still transient. We are settling into the community, and absolutely love where we are living. Woodridge has the feel of a nice, old suburb, in the sense that it feels like a real and established community, in contrast to the "shiny new" feeling that much of Naperville has. We recently discovered a local pizza place that we absolutely love, and I've settled on a favorite grocery store. We have library cards, we have a "usual" bike-riding route, and we've been discovering lots of little parks and playgrounds that are all over the place out here in Woodridge.
For the most part, the suburbs are treating me well. I like that it's quieter than the city, and I love the trees and bike paths and parks, and the general "family" feel of things. And yet there are things that I miss. Public transportation, for one thing. And independent, one-of-a-kind restaurants. There are great places to eat, especially as you head to Naperville's riverwalk, but many of the restaurants out here in the burbs are chains. I especially miss the local holes-in-the wall that you find in the city - places low on atmosphere, but high on excellent food. The same goes (especially!) for coffee shops. I got up today and thought it might be nice to head out to a coffee shop to finish up my sermon for Sunday. But search as I might, I came up empty on independent, local, "grassroots" (for lack of a better term) places. There are plenty of Starbucks and Caribou and Dunkin Donuts out here (and I have no problem with any of them, I promise...I am as good of a Starbucks addicit as any). But today, I was craving the feel of a local shop, something retro-funky like Goodbye Blue Mondays in Northfield, MN, or Small World in Princeton, NJ, or Pause and Smell the Coffee in Uptown.
I'm not sure if this has to do with the relative homogeneity of suburban life, with the newness of the suburbs as opposed to the more established corners of the city, with the suburban "values" of convenience and instant gratification, or with the fact people who live in the city tend to live there in order to experience the city (more outward-focused), while people in the suburbs tend to live there in order to have homes and families (more inward-focused). Or maybe I'm just overthinking the whole business. But regardless, if anyone out there knows of a good coffee shop in the western/southwestern suburbs, by all means let me know! :)
But for now, I'm off to watch the end of the Cubs game, do a little more knitting, and then hunker down to put the finishing touches on my sermon before having "date night" with Matt.