As an on-again-off-again dieter, I know the meaning of “You are what you eat.” Depending on the era, I’m hot fudge sundae pudgy or Rye Crisp slim.
Now, as an older gal in the process of moving away from my urban high-rise life, I’ve become hyperaware that “You are where you live.”
It won’t be long before my almost daily walks on Michigan Avenue will exist only in my imagination. Darting through a dense thicket of sauntering tourists last week, banked by concrete walls of skyscrapers and bombarded by honking horns, screaming sirens, rushing taxis, wheezing buses, whirring ambulances…
Yes, I know you get it. That unless you like cities, you’re ready to cocoon it under your bed, but I’ve grown to love the sensory stimulation. And, as I was walking, I thought to myself, This is home; this is who I am. And I’m moving to a quiet winding street that rolls gently downhill, flanked by beige brick-fronted twin homes sitting on large patches of grass with mail boxes perching lazily on posts at the curb.
I’ll no longer be the gal who walks city streets or rides ‘L’ trains; I’ll be driving everywhere. And I will change. I will become where I live: just as I have become city, I will become my new environment.
I’m reminded of John Gardner’s classic book The Art of Fiction. In a discussion on developing the characters in a novel, Gardner writes about the importance of knowing everything about each character, where they live, work, and play and more, in other words, their setting. He emphasizes that “setting influences both character and plot; One cannot do in a thunderstorm what one does on a hot day in Jordan” (p. 46). Just as in a mobile, each part affects every other.
I cannot do many things in Sioux Falls that I do in Chicago, but I’m looking forward to finding out what I can do. I’m sure it won’t be long until I acclimate and become the adage: “You are where you live.”
Hm-m-m. I wonder if I could leave my penchant for hot fudge sundaes in Chicago…