Last week, I walked to work nearly every day. The trip between our home near the Central Canal and my IUPUI office takes about 10 minutes.
On Tuesday, I walked from campus to a lunch meeting at the Skyline Club.
On Wednesday, I walked from home to an early-morning committee meeting at Symphony Centre.
On Friday, I walked to lunch with my parents at a Mass Ave restaurant, and later to my bank to deposit some checks and sign some paperwork.
For 11 years, since moving downtown from Fishers, I’ve been walking—to work and client meetings; to university classrooms; to movies and plays; to museums and the zoo; to galleries and concerts; to Colts and Pacers games; to college basketball tournaments; to weekend brunches; to not-for-profit board and committee meetings; to lunches and dinners at restaurants ranging from City Market to St. Elmo.
Now, thanks, in part, to that paperwork I signed at the bank, the day is rapidly approaching when my wife, Cheri, and I will say goodbye to all that.
The bank document requiring my signature had to do with a mortgage. The mortgage will finance a new home. Once that deal is done and our current place sells, we’ll be sworn citizens of small-town America, exemplary denizens of exurbia, loyal members of the I-drive-I-69-daily club.
Why would a rabid downtown advocate like me pack up and move to Pendleton?
Why would I trade my coveted skyline view for the Friday-night lights of the Pendleton Heights High School Arabians?
Why would I trade my no-vehicles-allowed, 2.5-mile Central Canal walking path for the shoulder of a state highway?
Why would I trade my no-yardwork, no-gardening, no-snow-removal, gated urban space for 5.3 wooded acres of lawn mowing, leaf blowing and barn sweeping?
Why would I trade walk-everywhere convenience for drive-everywhere drudgery?
Why would I trade strolls to Oceanaire for a slog to my new nearest restaurant, Wendy’s?
No, cynical readers, I’ve not been sentenced to a stint at Pendleton’s state penitentiary.
Rather, you need to strike up the orchestra and cue the cast of “A Chorus Line” with the opening notes of “What I Did For Love.”
My bride, you see, has landed a new job. It’s a big deal. It’s meaningful to her and to tens of thousands of young people. And (oh, by the way) it’s in Muncie. That’s more than an hour each way on the best of days—double that or more in bad weather.
Having spent umpteen years of my life commuting, the last thing I wanted was for Cheri to spend three or more hours a day on the road—after spending her usual long hours at the office.
So we started house shopping. For location, we followed the old Partridge Family song: “I’ll meet you halfway; that’s better than no way.”
Unfortunately for urban-minded me, splitting the distance between Cheri’s university workplace (Ball State) and mine (IUPUI) came down to places like Cicero, Lapel, Pendleton, Anderson and the aforementioned Fishers from whence I fled.
But we looked.
We looked at suburban cul-de-sacs with fiberglass backboards mounted above every driveway.
We looked at waterfront McMansions with water lines well below their intended level and docks dangling in midair.
We looked at fixer-upper money pits desperately seeking intervention from “This Old House.”
We looked at houses begging for tender loving care, houses hungry for “Extreme Home Makeover,” houses crying out for wiser architects or more tasteful designers.
But none of the houses seemed home to Cheri, me or us.
So instead, we literally bought the farm—or what used to be a farm, anyway. Once our downtown place sells, we’re moving to a rehabbed farmhouse. As part of the package, we’re gaining a barn, a shed and five rolling, wooded acres.
That’s where the real love comes in; for while this move was triggered by a job change, it’s more than that, really.
Cheri grew up in a rural home surrounded by farm fields. She recalls fondly playing alone in the back yard, swinging high on the swing set with nothing but blue sky for company, filling her days with ideas and imagination.
For my sake, she’s tried big-city life for seven years.
But here in downtown, there’s concrete instead of earth beneath her feet.
Instead of the wind blowing through the trees, there are sirens headed to Methodist or Wishard.
Rather than privacy, quiet and contemplation, there’s bustle and hustle and endless human interaction.
Instead of starlight, there are streetlights, stoplights and security lights from the warehouse across our avenue.
And so, we’re moving for love—hers for the land, mine for her, ours for one another.
Cue “A Chorus Line” once more:
Kiss today goodbye,
And point me toward tomorrow.
We did what we had to do.
Won’t forget, can’t regret
What I did for love.•
Hetrick is an Indianapolis-based writer, speaker and public relations consultant. His column appears twice a month. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.