18 The Odd Couple

Up the street from the tourism office, I spotted two men sharing a bench. One was gangly, with white hair and a red face. He wore blocky wraparound sunglasses, a car dealership shirt, and an Indianapolis 500 cap. The younger one was a stocky, dark East Indian wearing slim shades and a polo shirt.

When I asked if people were isolated in Indy, the old man looked off to the side, twisting a silver watch back and forth around his wrist. Then he growled in response, "Nah, I wouldn't say that. There's a lot of different neighborhoods in the city. There's a neat old neighborhood over on the east side called Irvington. West side is Sawville, which is where I grew up. It was originally settled by Germans, Polish. Now it's mainly black. I live in Speedway, which is the little burg that the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is located in. There's quite a few race fans live there. There's a little burg up on the canal called Rocky Ripple that is sort of a town unto itself within a town. Then of course there's the outlying suburbs. Brownsburg is in another county, but it's still part of the metropolitan area. Carmel and Fishers is a really fast-growing area."

At this, the young man chimed in with statements that curled up like questions. "Right now? Cities in the outer parts? are growing so fast that, where most towns it would take ten years? they're doing it in two. They're full in a year, and all the sudden the schools are too small. I've seen it, and I've only been here two and a half years. I was transferred here for a job with a big car dealership. After a year, they decided to close. But we liked it so much we just stayed. I was born and raised in Orange County, California. I was telling this guy that? Today? Perfect beach weather. Only there's no beach."

"So the outlying area is growing faster than the city?" I asked.

The younger man snorted. "The city's done."

The old man reined him in. "I wouldn't say the city's done, but I think we've got as much population inside Marion County as we need. Seven, eight hundred thousand people: that's enough as far as I'm concerned. This town in 30 years has just completely reinvented itself. It's really grown up. Every big town has its problems. They do a pretty good job here of trying to recognize the problems and take care of them."

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