What’s So Special About Illinois?

What’s So Special About Illinois?

Illinois is…

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…the place where I first lived on my own, twelve hours away from my family. I moved there, knowing one person previously, and I’ve never regretted it. I seem to have awesome luck in finding roommates, and while our lives have taken very different paths since that year together, we still have loads of fun when we see each other.

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…homey. In many ways it feels like stepping back in time to go back there, to the community built on farming and Midwestern hospitality. I love that I can count on the traditional Sunday lunch taco salad, that the school always has the same distinct smell, and that I can feel as comfortable as in my own home when I crash at the Kennells.

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…home to Mika’s, the place where I dropped my full glass of iced coffee and it rolled across the floor, leaving a lake of brown in front of two guys playing a board game. Of course. That still doesn’t stop me from coming to there, since it’s one of the most charming coffee shops around. Nothing is a better de-stresser than browsing Et Cetera, the thrift store across the street, then ending up at Mika’s for a drink (which you hopefully don’t drop on the floor) and some reading or writing time.

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…full of simple pleasures. When I lived there, we took great delight in our Aldi runs, making them into a veritable adventure. So of course, when I went back for a visit recently, we had to do a grocery run for old times’ sake. And no trip is complete without the spicy lime “pickling chips” which turn your mouth into a pickle and are so spicy and delicious you can’t keep eating them and you can’t quite stop either.

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…the place where I discovered that I can teach school. Teaching was on the list of jobs I never wanted to do. Yet for some reason that I still can’t explain, when Tricia asked if I’d be interested in teaching 1st and 2nd grade for a year, I decided, “Why not?” It was terrifying, seeing that I didn’t know the first thing about how a school was even supposed to work since I had been home schooled. But I figured it out, amid quaking, much laughter, and a few tears. And as far as I can tell, all my students managed to learn something!

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…quiet. Life seems to move at a slower pace there, revolving around farming and harvest and school seasons, rather than the hubbub I live in here in the east. Living there I got lonely sometimes without a busy social life, but now when life starts spinning too fast, I miss the many peaceful evenings I had alone in my farmhouse.

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…full of wonderful people. (And tall! I’ve never lived anywhere else where I felt positively short.) Their hearts are big and generous, and if you visit you will be made to feel at ease and at home.

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