My friend was right when she said I should come visit her for only a couple of weeks given the fact that Bloomington/Normal is truly the armpit of the Midwest. She's right. Following are some fine, fine views of one of two streets that makes up downtown Normal, the "city" in which my friend works as a professor at Illinois State University.
The T-shirt/poster store and the everything-including-the-kitchen-sink vintage store:
View of street with cyclist:
Pizza, clothing and kitchen shops. Garlic Press, to the far right, is the name of the kitchen store. I think it's a store specifically for Normal's rather large elderly lesbian population. Every person in the store had really short hair and amazing eyewear.
This wasn't the "Broadway" I had intended on visiting:
For all its faults, downtown Normal has some cute and funky shops - including a tattoo parlor and a way rad record store - but isn't the kind of place that would entertain 20,000 college students. I'm guessing there's a lot of fucking and drug taking going on in Normal.
Bloomington, a three-minute drive away, isn't much better. Lots of chain this and that. But the bread store here is to die for - warm strawberry shortcake bread and blackberry bars, for example, and an amazing huge bun with eggs, hash browns, cheese and veggies baked right in. Breakfast in a bun.
While I've been here, my friend and I have busied ourselves making necklaces from parts found at a bead store, talking trash and taking long, nighttime walks while obsessing about and analyzing our lives past, present and future - boys, jobs, sex, love, hopes, fears, neuroses, etc. I also have turned her into a huge fan of Sex and the City. So far, we have worked our way through seasons 1 through 3 and are currently on season 4 of the series on DVD. My friend had never seen even so much as one episode of the show before now. She has a lot to thank me for.
I fly back to Tallahassee Thursday afternoon. I will miss the friend but not the city. Hopefully, we will meet in a much more exciting locale next time.
I vote for Europe.
Next: Trouble in paradise