I’ve got a form of advanced homesickness going on.
This past weekend, I drove down and stayed with my parents who live in Westfield, a suburban bedroom community just north of Indianapolis.
Now, I love going home. My parents live in an older part of town in a quaint neighborhood with lots of big trees. I get to see all of the people who watched me grow up and visit where I used to work some summers in college.
But there’s something about spending time in Noble County that makes me wish Westfield were still the sleepy, one-stoplight town along U.S. 31 it was when I was younger and not the ever-expanding suburban oasis it is now.
Let me explain.
When I went home, there were four new strip malls and three new restaurants within five minutes of my parents’ house. And I don’t mean an old restaurant moved out of its building and a new one now inhabits it.
Nope. Where there were cornfields and dirt two months prior, there is now a Chipotle and a Denny’s and a Starbucks, all complete with jagged, brutalist architecture.
I also came home to news that, because development has progressed so far, the city council in Westfield is considering tearing down my parents’ house and building a road to expand S.R. 32.
This wasn’t necessarily a shock to me, since there had been rumors circulating for a long time about that neighborhood being turned into a lake. I had processed the idea of not being able to come home to my childhood house long ago.
Initially, I came to terms with that when half of a neighborhood was razed across the street from my parents’ to make room for a public park and what’s now called Restaurant Row, a strip of both expensive sit-downs and grab-and-go casual dining.
Don’t get me wrong, though. I’m not an old lady shaking her fist and angrily yelling at every new building that goes up. My parents submit public comment to the council and they and their friends go to meetings to keep up on development.
At the same time, though, I can still wish for things that were there when I was in school.
I wish I could go back to the football stadium where I walked the track for senior night.
I wish I could still see the stars as well in Westfield as I once could, when light pollution was just something Indianapolis dealt with.
And I wish I didn’t have to worry about our neighbors or unregistered historic places being elbowed out to make room for condos and hotels.
It makes me feel good that I live outside of the hustle-and-bustle in Fort Wayne, and even better that I work in Noble County, where people my age have the luxury of coming home to their schools, parks and neighborhoods that have the same integrity they had when they graduated high school.
As for me, I’ll be helping people back home write to the city council.