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:
YOU’RE GOING TO REGRET IT AND YOU’RE GOING TO FAIL!!
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.
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.
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
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…