We move to Tennessee in a few short days. As we pack the last of the boxes and plan out the last of our chores here in Illinois, my thoughts turn to you, Bolingbrook. You sometimes get a bad rap, but I think you’re just misunderstood, like the emo high school kid who keeps to himself. People may whisper about him, but he has a generous heart of gold and a head full of talent. You’ve been good to us these last few years and it is difficult to say good-bye. So, I want to thank you for supporting us during the Illinois leg of our life’s journey.
Thank you Bolingbrook for my neighborhood. I love our diverse, peaceful neighborhood. I love living in harmony with the Atheists, Muslims, Catholics, Hindus, Protestants, “nones” and more on my very street. I am proud to call Koreans, Indians, Nepalese, Caucasians, Hispanics, Chinese, African Americans and more my trusted neighbors. I enjoy chatting with the 3 year old, the SAHM, the veteran, the retiree, the government worker, the DJ, the fire fighter, the politician, the entrepreneur, the teacher, the contractor, the business owner and more who live on our block. We are a vision of what world peace could look like and I think that is incredibly inspiring. Take lots of pictures at the next block party for me. I will especially miss you Lorraine, Sarah, Ryan, Sean, Joey, Jackie, Joe, Sue, Dana, Michele, Lee, Tim, Amy, Jill, Scott, Dawn, Cici, Tony, Sheryl, Jeff, Gauri, and Mahee.
Thank you Bolingbrook for the library. I brought my first baby there for story time where he heard some of his first finger-plays, read his first books, and “made” his first Christmas ornament. The ground-breaking Studio 300 is where I first saw a 3-D printer up close and in action. The huge children’s wing invites kids to be simply who they are: kids in their loud, excited, sticky glory. My family enjoyed walks to the Bookmobile when it was parked outside our neighborhood twice a week. There are simply too many services you provided for me to list. Just know that my library card was my ticket to pure magic. I’ve already checked out our new library in Tennessee. It simply won’t be the same.
Thank you Bolingbrook for Meijer. Oh Meijer I love you and your mperks. According to my receipt today I’ve saved over $1,500 this year from mperks and specials. I don’t care if that is a marketing bluff, I love it. Most of our income after taxes, insurance and mortgage goes to your store so whatever you’re doing, it’s working. But I do have some suggestions. Take out the entire middle of the store. I never see anyone shopping for clothes or shoes in there. And when I need to pick up 2 items, like a toothbrush and bananas, they are inevitably on the opposite sides of the store and that drives me crazy. Walking through the middle dead zone is a pain. Lose it. Otherwise you’re great and my boys enjoy the free rides on Sandy the horse.
Thank you Bolingbrook for the Hidden Oaks Nature Center. This place is the definition of a hidden gem and I still can’t believe it is free to visit. The natural park under the canopy of trees in the summer is like a secret paradise and even I feel like a kid in there. The nature trails are beautiful and my husband and I have enjoyed many bike trips on the paved trails close by. The discovery room is so cool and a great place to spend a rainy afternoon. My boys love touching all the buttons in the interactive display on the first level and get excited seeing the turtles. The employee who wears a real snake as a necklace is kind and ironically inviting. I do owe you an apology, though. I tried a garden plot this year and royally failed. Sorry about that. But thanks for forgiving me and giving me the gigantic sunflower.
Thank you Bolingbrook for the parks. One of my secret goals was to visit every park in Bolingbrook. Sadly, this dream will go unfulfilled. However I’m thankful for the parks we have enjoyed; specifically Balstrode, Volunteer, Bulldog, Winston Woods, and Jamie McGee’s school play ground. My boys learned to swing on your swings and slide down your slides. Your wooded trails were some of their first to hike. United by common ground I met new mom friends and my boys learned to play well with others. And lastly a trip to the park always translated into a good nap later. Thank you for that most of all.
Thank you Bolingbrook for Lifestyles Fitness Center. Oh my gosh BRAC I will miss you so much. You introduced me to Body Pump and made me feel like a badass lifting a barbell over my head (Thank you, Maribel!). You made me feel comfortable for the first time ever in the weight room (Thank you, Beth!). You taught my toddler to be unafraid in the water (Thank you, Carrie!). You let me show off my white girl moves in Zumba (Thank you, Tracey!). You were there when I set a personal record for distance running. You let me shower and pee in peace. The caretakers in the child center room took excellent care of my boys, providing a safe, welcoming place to play while I enjoyed some daily “me” time. I can’t tell you how much that means to me and the impact you’ve made on my life.
Thank you Bolingbrook for BHS. I know people move out of this district because of you and I think that is a shame. You are part of my community so I have no problem being part of you. I love that you are a school of financial and racial diversity. I love hearing the marching band practice in the summer. I love that your building is “green.” Yes, I know you have your issues but what high school doesn’t? I’m confident that if we stayed in town my children would thrive there and learn how to get along with people from all sorts of financial, racial, and family backgrounds. That is an education worth having. BHS, I’m not mad at you. Go Raiders!
Lastly, thank you Bolingbrook for our first house. It is where we learned to be grown-ups with a real mortgage and a yard to maintain. It’s where we relaxed after long days at the office. It’s where we brought home our babies. It’s where my boys learned to walk and talk and use a fork. It’s where we celebrated Christmas year after year with thankful hearts. Our home has spoiled us and now we are very picky about the house we will chose in Tennessee.
Before I leave I do have some parting advice:
Don’t lose the prairies. People love to bitch about the rapid loss of the Amazon rain forest, but what most Americans don’t realize is the alarming loss of natural habitat in our own backyard. Bolingbrook is part of natural prairie land and it is estimated that less of 1/100 of 1% of Illinois’ natural prairie is left. ONE HUNDREDTH OF A PERCENT. Shame. Now, this isn’t completely your fault of course, but it irks me to no end seeing all the “For sale” signs on the last plots of wild land still left in our town, especially when Bolingbrook is home to so many gigantic, unused parking lots. We need to use our resources more wisely. How would you feel if someone put up “for sale for development” signs on the last one hundredth of a percent of the Amazon rain forest? Furious? That’s right. Do better and be a beacon of hope for our environment.
Lastly, Bolingbrook is a bit of a cultural desert. I know it. You know it. They know it. Let’s change it. There are talented artists within your borders. Engage them. We need some street art. Some public sculptures. Some bright paint on bland store fronts. Murals. A place to showcase local talent. Pretty please make it happen.
Thanks for everything. You will be missed.