In the last several years, my hometown has undergone a massive change.
Growing up, South Bend was the kind of place that you left as soon as you were able. My friends and I drew up plans to move to California or Seattle or New York or Chicago.
I actually pulled the trigger on that last one. But when I put South Bend in my rearview, I was surprised to realize how much I love it.
I wasn’t alone: a number of likeminded individuals plunged their hands into the soil of the city to cultivate a thriving community.
Today, that aim has been realized. When I moved away, there were maybe two or three places that regularly hosted live music. Now, there are about a dozen venues, bars, and cafes that are throwing shows, as well as a few house venues.
Eight years ago, downtown was home to one good restaurant and a few dive bars. Now, there are dozens of local restaurants, brewpubs, and independent coffeeshops, and tucked-away speakeasies scattered around downtown.
The city has become home to creative businesses as well: a friend of mine opened a recording studio in an old theater. My wife and I opened a makerspace. Other friends have opened galleries and art schools.
There’s so much going on that it can be difficult to keep track of it all.
Especially when time and money are in short supply. And in the last few years, juggling the two of those have been difficult.
When we were putting all of our energy into the shop, we were barely making enough to pay our bills at home, so going out to dinner at an organic, farm-to-table dinner gastropub is out of the question. But when I was working full-time, I was too busy to take advantage of the wealth of culture that had flooded the city.
But the choice between too broke and too busy is a dilemma that gets real old, real quick.
Which his why last year, I quite my job at the factory to start freelancing.
While it’s taken a while to build up a solid workload, I’ve managed to come to a place where I’m making a comfortable income with a manageable time burden.
And, because I do all of my work online, I can even make any of these establishments my office. I can just bring my laptop to any of the cafes or brewpubs in town, plug in some headphones, and enjoy all of the great new businesses popping up around town.
I can even get paid while I’m there. and you can’t beat that.