When I first came to Bloomington in August of '97, I didn't really want to be here. I wasn't ready to leave home, go to college, be a grown up...all of that. I wanted to stay home with my family! However, it didn't work out that way. I won't go into detail about all the years I've lived in Bloomington, mostly because I realized last night that I've lived here almost as long as I lived in Albion (minus a couple summers home from college).
But, as much as I didn't want to stay here, Bloomington has grown on me. Now I find myself in a town that isn't that big, but just happens to be home to a major university. In Bloomington, I found myself. I grew up so much in the first couple years I lived here - ending a relationship, feeling so very alone, finding a good root to my faith, meeting friends that are still precious to me all these years later.
College was a great experience for me. While I didn't exactly enjoy all my classes, I did enjoy the walks around campus, the chance to try new things, and, most importantly, going back to a place that had quickly become home for me. Bloomington would not have been the same without IUCSF. I would not be the woman I am without the influence of the ministers, support staff and other students involved in the ministry. CSF prepared me for life - it helped me find my place and my voice. I helped me learn to rely on others and rely on God to accomplish great things in my life.
The other part of Bloomington, and, perhaps, the most important part, is my church. I cannot separate Bloomington and SOCC. For me, one is synonymous with the other. Especially since college, most of my experiences here have been somehow related to the church. It was within the walls of SOCC that I gained valuable skills and experienced a million challenges. It is also within those walls that I met my husband for the first time. I fell in love at SOCC. I got married at SOCC. My life now revolves around the church - it's where I work, where I worship, where I serve and where I spend more of my time than I like sometimes. :) It's also where I meet great people and make amazing new friends.
I've lived here long enough that I know how long it will take me to get from work to Target. I know where my favorite restaurants are, and I know exactly what I'll order. I know when to avoid downtown and that turning left on 2nd from my house is just not worth it. I know that the wal-mart parking lot stinks and that there is always something going on in town.
Of the places my heart calls home, this is the place where it feels rested and complete. Though I love Evansville and Albion and my heart longs for those places - it is the people that draws me there. For Bloomington, there is something about the very city that I enjoy. I don't know that we'll live here forever (in fact, I would assume we won't), but I will keep working to cherish the time we are here. I don't know a lot for certain, but I know leaving this place will be much harder than leaving Albion all those years ago. My world in Bloomington is my world. There is nothing in my experience in this town that is anything but something I have created. I chose to go to college here. I chose to stay. We still choose to be here.
Bloomington is home for me for now - and for as long as we're here - there will be no place like home.