Last weekend, I traveled to Indianapolis to give a talk to the RWA chapter there. Also, there are people there from my oldest writing group, the former Genie RomEx, which was a brutally difficult place to sign online, way back in the day before you could send email between services. (It’s bizarre to think about that now, that I’d sit on my text-based service, writing emails to only the members of that service, wishing I could send one to someone on AOL, or Prodigy or….well, you get the picture. It’s rather astonishing how far we’ve come in not very many years.)
Anyway. In Indy, I connected with Alicia Rasley and Brenda Barber and her daughter Bethany (a lovely tall lean girl with an airy grace, who wants to be an opera singer. How cool is that?). One of Christopher Robin’s friends also lives there. So I had a writerly meal with Alica and Co at Agio’s an Italian restaurant downtown, one I will remember for the incredible Baked Apple and Gorgonzola Empanada, garlic puree, tomato-raisin chutney. Bethany chose the wine, a great chianti, and I was paying attention to my diet, so ate "only" the vegetable plate for my meal. Spectacular. If more restaurants cooked vegetables like this, it would be no trouble to be vegetarian. The surroundings are hip and colorful, and the neighborhood obviously gentrified in the most elegantly funky sort of way.
I was surprised to like the city as much as I did. I suppose I was expecting a weary post-industrial, post-family-farmland county seat, with grimy streets and lots of poverty. All those cliches. (Maybe I was imagining St. Louis, now that I think about it. There are humans I adore in St. Louis, but not so much the city, which always strikes me as slightly hostile and difficult to navigate.) Indianapolis was not difficult or prickly. I liked the orderly layout of the downtown, which was clean and tidy for the most part, with whimsical light sculptures at the street crossings. CR and I walked down to the river, seeing first the tail end of what must have been a 5 or 10K by the look of the not-demolished runners who were finishing and walking away, drinking water. Then we crossed a bridge and looped around the zoo and ended up going against an enormous wave of walkers engaged in a charity event. Maybe diabetes. Walked back to our hotel, skirting the university, had a coffee and showered before my talk. Where I also heard the news that my eldest landed a position he most desperately wanted for next year. (Hooray, Ian!)
I liked the graceful stone buildings downtown, the energy of the campuses right on the edge of the river, the
old neighborhoods that are still incredibly affordable. I snapped this photo of a doorway because there were so many attractive doors like this, and the most beautiful Borders store I’ve ever seen, occupying an old bank. The clerk was tidy middle aged man with a snappy white goatee, a refugee from Colorado, who said he liked Indy because it was like Denver in the mid-sixties.
In the evening, we met CR’s longtime friends for a meal at Palomino’s, which lasted nearly four hours. We imbibed and
ate and talked and talked and talked. Delightful evening, full of laughter and good company. The next day, we met Alicia’s husband, who will be leading a trek to Nepal next month, and I was fascinated by how one could manage walking for days at 24,000 feet. He said it isn’t easy. CR, who loves altitude, was enchanted by the idea.
In all, a lovely city. I could live there, and I don’t say that often. Everyone was outside, riding bikes and running and walking. It was easy to move around in, and had plenty of universities to provide intriguing humans.
Now, I’m getting ready for Italy (four days and counting). I’ll try to find some photos of the cocktail dresses I found. Yummy!
5 thoughts on “Tidy Indianapolis”
You are so spot on about Indy. I was a flight attendant for 17 years and got to know many cities well. Indy is very pleasent–and some great art musuems. The country does retain regional character. We used to play a game on long lay-overs in airports where we’d guess what city an
airplane came in from by the people getting off. We got pretty good at it! In my experience the South had the nicest folk, followed by the mid-west. Enjoy your blog and want to hear about Italy. It’s one of my dream destinations.
Okay, do you remember when you had to dial up to different bulletin boards? Or when the internet was this text only thing at universities, before AOL?
It wasn’t that long ago, but gosh, it seems like forever!
I visited a few years ago on the way to a wedding in the wilds of western Ohio, and I too was quite pleasantly surprised and charmed by Indianapolis. Really a lovely city, even if it is too far from the ocean for my comfort.
Cynthia, what an interesting game! I love airport games. I am always fascinated by the number of people walking by, from everywhere.
It wasn’t that long ago, was it, that the internet wasn’t there? Exactly.
Carol, yes, no mountains or oceans. A good river, though.