Happy Anniversary.

I’d been commuting to Indianapolis for a year, sometimes 3 times a week… just for church.
It’s not that my hometown wasn’t full of steeples & Sunday morning bells ringing, it was that it didn’t fit anymore, and I didn’t fit anymore.

So on the advice of a friend who was watching my heart stretch for something more, I layered up in my blue velvet blazer & drove 56 miles to sit in a chilly seat on Central Avenue on a wintry Sunday morning, and that was it.

That was really it. I’d found my new home.
So for a year I drove ‘home’ on Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights and usually at least once more every week.

Then one night pacing in the parking lot of my alma mater, I held the phone tight to my ear as a love told me she was lonely.  She’d moved to Indianapolis to get married, and now the ring was off and the wedding was off… and her plans were derailed.
So what if I finally made the move?
Well, okay.

I gave our realtor only one request… I wanted room for dancing.
I threw a formal New Year’s Eve party every year and there just had to be room for the shimmying, the shaking, & the sparklers.
After a terrifying jaunt through 38th street, we opened a door downtown in Windsor Park to stained glass and hardwood floors, vaulted ceilings & reclaimed character, and we said yes.
Maybe a bit naive to what an ‘up & coming’ neighborhood really was, but 4 years in and all of the crack dealers have been pretty polite.

That 2nd week of December we unpacked without the heat on or the windows installed, but we bustled to get everything set & ready for the holidays.
With the silver shined & the guest beds made, glitter everywhere & champagne corks popped, we rang in the evening as well as a new chapter!

It was time to make Indy my new hometown.

It wasn’t all cocktails and Crate & Barrel those first few months… did I leave out the minor detail that I moved to Indianapolis without a job?

Dozens of job applications filled out with my best friend’s much-better penmanship, I clicked around in my patent pumps like I already owned the town.
Too bad my years studying Scripture and waiting tables wasn’t quite as impressive as I’d wished, especially during a recession where even the PhD’s were donning aprons.
Through a Columbia Club connection of my brother-from-another-mother, I snagged an interview at a downtown restaurant.
Apparently the restaurant’s VP of development took one look at my resume, saw “church” & “Bible college” and handed it to the chef who’d be conducting the interview and told him not to hire me.

That afternoon I sat with the tantrum-throwing Gordon-Ramsey doppelgänger and charmed him.
He said “I need an actress, I need someone to fake it when they’re stressed, I need someone to serve while putting on a show… and I have a sneaking suspicion that all of this giggling & happiness you exude is actually not bullshit.  You start tomorrow.”

So for the next year I did just that.
I put on a show.
I fell in love with my regulars, I spun through the hot busy kitchen smiling & joke-telling, and somewhat-awkwardly talking about Jesus all the time.
I got to know names and stories and who-worked-where and what-to-do and what-to-see in this new hometown of mine.
I was excited when I saw a face I’d poured sangria for at the local market, I loved that a customer & his wife offered to pay for me to take an improv class at a down-the-street comedy club, I had a crush on at least half the staff.

The summer came and I moved to Manhattan.
But that story’s for another time.

I came back, and suddenly the ‘big city’ didn’t seem so big, I noticed the sweetness of the people, the green everywhere when I drove, the heartfeltness in how hard everyone worked.  I came back so appreciative, but with the energy of the Big Apple still pulsing through me.

I snagged a second job at J.Crew as a lowly sales associate.
(But a sales associate with a passion for cashmere and a wicked discount, nonetheless.)
From my downtown home & restaurant to my worship in Broad Ripple, and now my new gig on the Northside, my little arms kept wrapping around more of Circle City.

Within 6 months I became the store’s youngest personal shopper.
I was exhausted & happy.

Then that restaurant VP who had been more than leery about hiring this snow leopard, asked me when I was going to come onboard as the manager of his upscale gentleman’s barbershop.
The man was prickly on the outside, with a heart of gold tucked away on the inside.  I’d quickly fallen in love with him,  his redheaded spitfire wife,  and their  beautiful baby boy.  I was thrilled at the opportunity to work for a family I believed in and a business I believed in.

I’d walk out the glass doors under the early-morning dark, with the glimmer of our shop’s chandelier sparkling behind me, and I’d traipse down Washington, turn on Meridian, and pump strong worship music through my headphones, swinging my bangle-stacked arms and smiling like a girl who’d found herself.
Because I had.

The barbers & our shoe-shine man knew everyone, and I mean everyone.  So as the blonde frontwoman, I shook hands with everyone from the town troubadour to Mitch Daniels.

And on the afternoons I swung up north to style the city’s fashionistas, it seemed I was building a family.
I rested in the arms of my church on Sundays, refreshed enough to tackle loving everyone well the rest of the week.

I turned 27 and made a decision to become the visual director for Indy’s J.Crew.

For the next year plus, I painted and hammered and bedazzled in a place where the aesthetic fueled me.
I helmed a corner of the brand I was passionate about in every sense… from the buttons to the maritime stripes to my collar-popped coworkers.

And then an opportunity I couldn’t pass up came my way, and though it turned into a rough season I don’t much care to chit-chat about, for a short chapter I was the Merchandiser for hipster central.
With my little photo in Indianapolis Monthly, and 60+ hours a week spent draping forms in vintage tees & thrashed denim, there were some highs in that low valley.  But when I found myself crying everyday, I knew it was time to find myself yet again.

And this time around, it dawned on me how much of a family I’d built out of this town.
Within days I had a new job.
Just days of e-mails and phone calls flying between friends who reached from Greenwood to Castleton to Carmel to Irvington, and I had a dozen interviews.

So now, less than a year into my new gig at a multimillion dollar salon & spa & boutique, I spend that forty minute commute thinking about how thankful I am.

Four years ago I just did it, I packed the boxes and moved without a job or a safety net.

And since then there’s been countless stacks of cinnamon sourdough toast at Patachou, at least a hundred blushing smiles when Ricardo at La Piedad greets me with an “Ahh, mi amor”, pages of bad poetry penned after horseback riding at Ft. Harrison, hugs-a-plenty when I go to giggle with Kay at Mass Ave Toys, the perfect gift always served with a side of sarcasm from Kris at Silver in the City, movies on the lawn, lanterns floating lazily, and private swoon-worthy tours of the IMA with Jillian, heavy-hearted conversations of a fearful future with my favorite dancing barista on 56th, an apologetic bartender at The Ball & Biscuit when I’m on yet another terrible & hilarious bad first date, even worse first dates and more sincere apologies over a Krunch Munch roll at Naked Tchopstix, meaningful words chosen to slip into envelopes at Chelsea’s, Buddha Blossoms sipped while the gossip flows at Usual Suspects, and long nighttime strolls taken through Woodruff Place or around the canals.

And when I push the cart at O’Malia’s or Fresh Market and when I slurp pad Thai noodles at Siam Square, chances are I will see a familiar face.

We’ll hug or high-five and spend a few moments catching up.

I officiated my first wedding, handed out my first business cards, experienced my first mugging, & styled my first TV spot here.
I’ve sat awed under spinning Cirque du Soleil aerialists, swayed and screamed at countless concerts, & spewed yearning words into a microphone on Illinois Street.
I’ve fallen in love in this town.  I’ve had my heart broken in this town.  I’ve cried while speeding south on 10th & held a half-dozen new beloveds at Clarian North.
Hours have been spent tipping back & forth on my porch swing, or planning parties at Petite Chou.

And so on days like today where I stood, yet again, on an 8th floor on Pennsylvania, with my toes tucked near the edge, staring down at the city I love, I think how good it is to sometimes just do it.  Just pack the boxes and go.

Because I didn’t just find myself along the circle, and I didn’t just find a family thanks to Common Ground, I’ve found my hometown.



Dear Indianapolis,
I love you.


Indianapolis_Downtown_Skyline_ICVA_small

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2 Responses

  1. Happy anniversary!

  2. I love this, Kate. I could not agree more. Indy looks good on you, friend.

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