Small Town Stranger to Stranger in the Suburbs

When I tell people that I am moving to the Chicago area, the news has been received with a mixed bag of emotions. The typical response consists of warm congratulations and best wishes, but there are the occasional pods of resentment. For instance, consider my mother’s response:


Sure, it’s not the response I want, but to be honest, the response that bothers me even more is as follows:

I’m so glad you’re finally getting out of that small town!

I feel indignant when I hear that sentiment because Dubuque, while small, is also one of the most progressive, interesting, and beautiful places I’ve ever resided. It’s charm was not immediately apparent to me when I moved in and sobbed in my closet regularly (See The Panic Room), but once I truly gave the city a chance my perception changed drastically.

Why? one might ask.

In true Small Town Stranger form here’s a list to demonstrate:

Dubuque is beautiful: Look toward the Mississippi River and look to the bluffs especially in autumn. Dubuque is cradled in natural wonders. Walk along the river at the Mines of Spain or through Washington Park at dusk and you’ll feel it.

The Mississippi in March 2010

Dubuque’s dining scene is surprising: On any given night, you can find sushi, Indian, Greek, and Thai food in Dubuque (See Top Ten Restaurant Picks). The Asian Gourmet on W. 11th was my saving grace when I first found it. I’ve have yet to find Pad Thai that matches Lien’s. I also have yet to find a restaurant whose service also serves as unintentional dinner theatre each night.

Dubuque has a kickass library: The library was the first place I visited in Dubuque and it has been like an old friend ever since. I attended my first Iowa Caucus in the Carnegie-Stout Library rotunda, helped with the fundraising efforts, and watched as it transformed from an old building with great resources into a wonderful facility with even better resources.  

The Rotunda


Carnegie Stout Library


Dubuque has a helluva lot of festivals, pubs, and cathedrals: I’m not sure how much more I can elaborate on this one. What I can say is that the people of this area know how to celebrate and celebrate often. DubuqueFest and Voices in the Warehouse are among my favorite festivals/celebrations while some of my favorite pub haunts include Monk’s Kaffee Pub, The Lift, The Lounge, and the late Isabella’s. I like the look of the cathedrals…I admit I don’t enter them.

Dubuque has a fantastic farmers market: What makes it wonderful is that it is truly local. You will not see vendors from across the country at this market. When you can connect with the


Fincel's Sweet Corn


Dubuquers are cool people: I’ve met so many supportive, friendly, funny, and generous people in this city. Whenever I’ve needed help, whether it was a ride to the mechanic or a supportive hug when there was a death in the family they were always been there to support me, a stranger to this place.

I will really miss CE in particular. Our early morning runs in freezing weather, bike rides, thrifting, obscure pub crawls, and road trips to IKEA and William Elliott Whitmore concerts are some of my most excellent memories.

Soon I will be a stranger in suburbia…


About Restless Cube Dweller

Most of my adult life has been defined finding homes in unconventional places, and learning to interact positively with others. I've lived in the middle of nowhere, in small cities, in large cities, in the suburbs, and now in Dubuque, Iowa. This blog represents my musings about growing up, moving on, finding love, and eating well in the suburbs and beyond.
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9 Responses to Small Town Stranger to Stranger in the Suburbs

  1. Stacy says:

    Ashley, please reconsider leaving this hamlet you have so come to love! I personally will really miss working with you.

    • Restless Cube Dweller says:

      I have a feeling I’ll be back someday, Stacy. The good news is that I will probably continue my work on Saladin even after I move to the math team 🙂
      I’ve enjoyed working with you too!

  2. flatonmyface says:

    CE will miss you too, team. a lot. MM and I are already planning a road trip to help ease my transition into AZ-lessness.

  3. Sarah says:

    I know it’s hard to leave a place you’ve come to love. It’s surprising how some small towns end up having everything you could wish for–Bozeman was the same way for us. But Chicago is great! Probably one of my favourite places I’ve ever lived (maybe). Where exactly will you be living?

    • Restless Cube Dweller says:

      It is surprising! How is California living going for you?

      I won’t actually be living in the city, but in Downers Grove (southwestern suburb). I’m cool with it since the train to Chicago is nearby!

  4. Jean says:

    We are going to miss you so much! I’ll never forget the first time I met you and thought you were just the coolest, bravest young chick I had ever met! You will not fail! Are you leaving the flying monkey?

  5. Nicole says:

    Love this blog! 🙂

  6. Ann says:

    I wound up loving Dubuque for the same reasons. I never want to go back to Brooklyn again!

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