Week Thirty-six: Amanda Kasper


List five things about your hometown that you wouldn’t trade for the world.

 “Everybody has to leave, everybody has to leave their home and come back so they can love it again for all new reasons.”

My hometown is fairly large. It’s a Northwest Suburb of Chicago. Eight years ago, my high school had 4,419 students registered. I graduated alongside a class of 1,078. This wasn’t uncommon for the other local high schools either. We were competitive. We were trained well. We were academically challenged, and we preformed without disappointment.

When I went away to college, I was ecstatic for new beginnings. But Des Moines, IA, is quite different than where I grew up. Through four years of making sure everyone I met knew “I wasn’t from Iowa”, I realized that there were in fact things at home I deeply appreciated and loved.

  1. Wherever you live, when you leave, you’re from “Chicago”. Wherever you actually live, you’re never more than 45 minutes real time from the city (2-6 hours with traffic, of course).
  2. Local Restaurants. There are some restaurants that have more than one location in the area, but they’re only in our area. Portlllos. Lou Malnatis (even though I only eat cheese-less pizza). Flat-Top Grill. Argo Tea. Point, set. Match.
  3. My family. Although the town I grew up in has changed in demographic and makeup significantly since I was a child, nearly all my immediate family lives within a half hour of my house. I wouldn’t trade this for the world, no matter how much I wanted to jet set. The love and support of family, especially during tough times, is really honestly irreplaceable.
  4. The prevalence of Starbucks. I know, I know. This one makes me sound incredibly stuck up and snobby, but I assure you, I am not. I only just began drinking coffee again a few weeks ago. But Starbucks (or any coffee shop really) is where I do all of my work. It’s where I write. Where I think. Where I read for grad school, do research for term papers, work on my thesis project. It’s an environment I trust myself to focus in, and where I live, there are 6 within a 10 minute drive. That means if one is crowded or I have other errands to run, I have my pick. This is truly something that makes me feel lucky (hey, life’s about appreciating the little things, right?)
  5. Northwestern University – I didn’t appreciate it then, but coming back home now, I’m grateful that a prestigious, big 10 university is located right in my backyard. This has allowed me to finish my graduate degree with standards I admire and appreciate (and will hopefully find me a job) while living back at home and being able to access local doctors and have the support of my family through all of my health trials and tribulations.

I know they’re small things, but all together, they make me who I am.  They make me trust where I’m from. They make me no that I never want to stray far. And when I have, they make returning that much sweeter.


Amanda Kasper is a writer, reader, quote lover, CASA advocate, and non-profit believer, seeking space as a lifelong learner, passionate lover, and irreplaceable friend. Amanda tweets at @AKasper513 and blogs over at “& this I believe”


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