So, it turns out I live in the second best city in the country. At least, Money Magazine tells me I do. Why? Commerce, culture, cuisine, and countryside, I guess.
Sometimes your looking for a place to go that's not at home but doesn't require you to buy anything. There are few places like this. You want to be around people, even if your not with any friends. The mall is about the only place that meets this criteria these days.
Of course, the mall feeds on telling you everything you don't have.
Naperville manages to avoid the mall feel. However, the thriving downtown is the result of plenty of commerce and cuisine: Restoration Hardware, Barnes & Noble, Ann Taylor Loft, Potbelly, the Gap, Eddie Bauer, Lou Malnati's, Giordano's, Sharper Image, among the most popular. All in maybe 12 blocks of downtown. If you can avoid buying something, you'll be quite the exception.
Culture is certainly around--though not overwhelmingly. Some art and music fests throughout the summer. And the green grass is a welcome reprieve from suburbia. In a world where sidewalks won't get you anywhere, the sidewalks downtown offer at least a nice view. Plenty of romantic strollers, families, loud high schoolers, and singles. And the late-night atmosphere even in the shadows speaks to the apparent safety felt by the people there.
So yeah, it's nice, but you still have to drive to get there. There's plenty of parking but you often have to walk a ways, not necessarily a bad thing. Downtown manages to be an oasis sometimes from the busy, busy, busy traffic everywhere else. Your reminded where you are often by the thumping music in the trunk of some guy's car.
And I'm sure the high schoolers still repeat that mantra on the weekends: "There's nothing to do!" For all the high schoolers living in less-than-perfect cities (and others less than excited about their plot in life), this is the common experience among us all. And, really, other towns aren't any better than yours.
You can stop dreaming about the greener grass on the other side. I'm on the other side, and I'm telling you: "Well, maybe you could find it in Fort Collins."
But I doubt it.