How quickly the days seem to pass by.
Lately, I’ve been driving more than I usually do – and I find myself having difficulty keeping my eyes on the road. The trees are absolutely gorgeous this time of year. “Were they always this gorgeous?” I ask myself, before noticing oncoming headlights a little closer to my left than they should be. I wanted to take a photo of my driving adventures today, but as I was driving on a two-lane road with nowhere to stop, I continued to drive on. How fitting that the local alt radio station played Incubus’s “Drive” just moments before? (Probably one of my favorite songs, if I have one).
Why did I not realize this before? Perhaps because I’m in a new home (that sounds weird, doesn’t it?). The part of Chicago I lived in before moving to Indianapolis is a relatively new establishment. The trees are sparse and very obviously recent (im)plants. Indianapolis has its own charms that for people who’ve never lived here probably will never know. I certainly had my misconceptions coming in from Chicahhh-go. But like the trees with their gorgeous hues of reds, oranges, yellows, and greens welcoming a woman who always dreamed of living in a forest (I don’t live in a forest, but I am close enough to streets that plow through them), it seems as if the city itself has welcomed me.
I know that sounds cliched, but the fact that I am new here and can be the Rafia I want to be, unencumbered by the Rafia I used to be or the Rafia people know me as, it really does feel like I’ve settled into a new home. I lived in Chicago for 18 years and it wasn’t until the last two years of my living there that I felt like I really belonged in a community outside the Khader residence. I’ve been in Indy 9 months and the only thing I miss about Chicago is
mom’s cooking my family. Oh, and that beautiful skyline! Chicago architecture still is #1 (and if ever I forget it, that same radio station frequently playing The Smashing Pumpkins will remind me – I’m alt rock girl, okay? Deal with it). Okay, Giordano’s too, but we have it in Indy as well now. So yeah.
This past weekend, I attended the Indy Author Fair at the Indianapolis Public Library. Because it was free, I was somewhat skeptical of what I would get out of it. But after just a session and a half, I got just the jolt in writing I needed. I came home feeling rejuvenated and excited about my writing dreams. “I AM A WRITER!” I wanted to yell to no one and everyone. And you best believe I revisited thoughts of getting an MFA! I came home thinking, “Wow, the IPL system is really great. I would have paid to attended that fair – but it was free!” And nothing is more melodious to a Desi than the word “free.”
Because Indy is a much smaller city than Chicago, it’s less daunting for a country bumpkin like myself (though that doesn’t mean I don’t get lost despite using GPS). You might have to search a little harder, but there’s actually lot of things to do here that aren’t related to football.
All these lovey-dovey feelings of belonging might have to do with the fact that I am married now and have a level of freedom I didn’t before, but that would be giving Mr. Rafia too much credit. I’m actually finally doing things that have nothing to do with my husband and I absolutely love it – karaoke at Congressman Andre Carson’s birthday bash might be the highlight so far. I can’t say it’s all because of Indiana, but it is happening in Indiana.
Isn’t it funny how the Spirit & Place Festival whose theme is “Home” this year is just a few days away? I swear this was not commissioned by anyone affiliated with the Festival or the city, but this is a piece I’ve been meaning to write for weeks now. It’s nice to see how much I’ve grown (and not just in girth!) since that post 6 months ago. I’ve come to see that home doesn’t have to be limited to the place where you were born or the place you’ve spent most of your life. It can be anywhere you feel you belong – and in that case, Indy is now home.
I feel like I just denied a part of my Canadianness by admitting that, so I’ll end with this:”There’s no place like home, eh?” Yeah, I feel better.