I've never been much of a traveler. I always like to stay home or maybe take a road trip an hour or so away - never across the country or even all the way across the state. Some people have the travel bug, and it's all they seem to talk about, write about, or post photos of. It's never been something that annoyed me, but I haven't ever had that itch to pack my bags and run away. Well, I hope to change that.
One of my big goals of 2018 is to travel more in the United States. Yes, I am still making new years resolutions, or in better words, "intentions." I intend on traveling even if it never happens, but it's the intention and thought that matters. I was inspired after reading a Chicago Magazine article about traveling to America - America, Illinois that is. The journalist and photographer, two peas in a pod (or Jeep Renegade) make it their intention to travel across the state, down the backroads, to visit some of the smallest and most unique attractions the Lincoln state has to offer.
I immediately thought, "What a boring trip," but while I read the feature, I realized Illinois can kind of be...cool? Who knew the state of "Chicago and corn" could be so interesting. The roadside attractions, random huge sculptures, mom 'n pop restaurants and bed and breakfast oases were scattered along their journey. I wanted, at that moment, for some reason, to travel through Illinois. My home state of corn and suburbia - I wanted to see what it was really like outside of my rosy glasses.
Whether I decide to travel through the state in my Mazda 3, sporty, yet very small, car, or not, I know I will find it in me to travel somewhere - anywhere! When I told my boyfriend about my plans, he sort of laughed and shrugged off the idea at first. But I wasn't expecting to hear this after, "Why Illinois? Let's go anywhere." He's right. Why Illinois?
I'll tell you why. Illinois has always been a home, but it isn't paradise. It's a place where your family members grow up but never stay for long. It's home to many Dunkin' Donuts, Culvers, and random fast food of all things, but it doesn't fit my vegan diet. There are so many seemingly "bad" things about Illinois, and everyone always seems to make fun of the place we call home, but I find some type of comfort about it.
When you leave the suburbs of Chicago, everything seems to revert back a few years. It's really just a reflection of the rest of rural America, but I never seem to realize that at the moment. The article talks about a group of teenagers in a small town on one side of Illinois - one of them didn't have a cellphone or any social media accounts. And he didn't care.
If you didn't have a cellphone in the suburbs, people would think you're weird or just really poor. But for these students, they couldn't care less about images on a screen or the last post by a celebrity. They were absorbing and living life where they were, and I admire that. Maybe one day I can live in rural Illinois without a cellphone and a milkshake in my hand, like the boy, but for now, I'll keep my rosy glasses on a bit longer.