What Makes a True Highland Parker?
Do you know how to navigate Sunset Foods before a holiday? Then you might live in Highland Park.
Few things make me feel more at home than hearing my spin instructor start a class by announcing that she has three briskets in the oven and is in the midst of setting her table for Passover.
It made me think: what makes me feel like a true Highland Parker? The question wasn’t anything new. It first came to me about ten days ago, when a group of us were having lunch at the CK — that’s Country Kitchen for the two of you who don’t know — and the conversation turned to holiday preparations. Brisket, of course, garnered a mention, as did gefilte fish, matzah cookies and the lament of the noodle-less kugel. We debated the merits of cooking with schmaltz and laughed about how dated that seemed, yet how reassuring it was that our beloved Sunset Foods continues to carry the delicacy (assuming rendered chicken fat can indeed be considered a delicacy).
My husband offered to do the weekly grocery shopping last week. Soon after, he called me in a panic from the aisles.
“You owe me big time,” he said. “Why didn’t you warn me?”
I hung up and smiled. Silly, imported husband. You’d think that after 21 years of marriage, 18 of which lived within the confines of 60035, he’d know enough to steer clear of all grocery stores in the days leading up to a holiday. The police officers patrolling the parking lots in uniform should have been a tip off.
I felt like a true Highland Parker on Sunday as I geared up for a nice spring ride. At 6:30 a.m., the thermostat read 36 degrees, but weather.com assured me that, factoring in the wind, it’d feel a little more like 28. Sturdy and stubborn, I put on layers and layers of unattractive bike clothing and headed out. After all, the sun was shining and it was mid-April. I grew up here. I’m used to it.
Then on Monday, the coup de grace: three inches of wet, white snow on April 18. There was only one response I could think of: I was going swimming. Outside. The health club had deemed mid-April as the kick-off for outdoor spring swimming, so by 7 a.m. I was in the pool, alternately swimming laps and floating on my back, trying to catch snowflakes on my tongue.
Yet, none of this made me feel as much a Highland Parker as what I’m about to confess. After my swim, I headed to the Highland Park Public Library. I love the library. I live two blocks from the library. But it was snowing. And wet. And cold. And I had my laptop. So I drove there.
On my first pass through the lot, there were no spaces. Here’s where my head hangs in shame. I circled in and out of the lot three times, never once getting lucky enough to find a spot.
I swim outside in the snow. I bike in the howling wind. I know how to navigate the grocery store before a holiday. But when it comes to walking or driving the two blocks from my house to the library, I drive.
You tell me: Is that the sign of a true Highland Parker?