Several of my friends and relatives live in the city of Chicago. I, however, live in a suburb of Chicago. Some people who actually live in the city proper would get upset with me when I say that I’m from Chicago, because technically, I’m not. When I’m traveling or at a conference, though, saying I’m from Chicago cuts to the chase. Take, for example, the following conversations.
Stranger: Where are you from?
Stranger: Oh! The Windy City!
Stranger: Where are you from?
Stranger: Oh, where in Illinois?
Me: Mount Prospect
Stranger: I’ve never heard of it. Where is it?
Me: By Chicago.
Stranger: Oh! I love IKEA!
(Myth #1: IKEA is in Schaumburg, not Chicago.)
I’m not much for small talk. I prefer the first conversation, even if I don’t actually live in Chicago.
So, yes, I live in the suburbs. Some in the city criticize the ‘burbs for being a boring place to live. Stereotypes abound about suburban life. However, life in the suburbs is not all they say it is. Here are some myths that simply aren’t true in my neighborhood.
- Myth: You have to drive everywhere. While it’s true that I do have to drive to get groceries, there are many places I can walk to; we walk to the elementary school, the playground, and to friends’ houses. We can also walk to the community center where Lily and Emmy have taken many dance and music classes. Our park district pool is in walking distance, along with the middle school my girls will attend. But the most exciting place to walk to in my neighborhood is Dunkin’ Donuts, which is right across the street from the preschool where I teach.
- Myth: There’s no public transportation. When I went to high school, I lived in a nearby suburb and took the public bus to school. Here in Mt. Prospect, we can walk to the bus stop and to the train station. In March, we took the train downtown to go up to the ledge at the top of the Sears Tower. You know, the same ledge that cracked just a few weeks ago.
- Myth: There’s no night life in the suburbs. Last weekend, Ed and I went on a date night in the neighboring suburb of Arlington Heights. We had reservations at a local Italian restaurant named Carlos & Carlos, where the bartender was cheering for Italy at the World Cup and Ed was watching a chef make fresh pasta. Oh, the pasta was so delicious! The last time I ate a cream sauce that authentic was at a little Italian place in Boston.
After Ed and I stuffed ourselves like Big Anthony, we went to see a play. The Last Five Years is a musical which will soon be a movie, and it was surprisingly good. We then sauntered over to a place called Big Shots. Ed and I call it the Piano Bar because we always forget the real name of the place. They have a very entertaining piano player and singer.
The best part of the evening? Parking was free! I dare you to find free parking in Chicago.
- Myth: There’s no diversity. Yes, the suburbs used to be a place for only white people to live. Times have changed for the better. We are surrounded with a variety of cultures and languages, and my children are growing up in a rich environment.
- Myth: Everyone drives a minivan. Well, this is still mostly true, unless you drive an SUV.
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