Growing up in Carmel, I often encountered criticism of others regarding my apparent bratty affluence. When I was young I tried to argue the point. I knew the attack felt wrong, that there was more to my story and to Carmel, but it was not until adulthood that I uncovered the deeper complexity of community and location.
After we married, my husband and I followed friends to Broad Ripple. Having lived on the north side for years, we felt drawn to live in what appeared a more economically and ethnically diverse locale. We eventually outgrew our rented 1920s bungalow and decided to buy a home. We targeted the Washington Township area. We considered it more diverse and humbler than the north side, but not so humble as to be un-chic. After a year of searching, we realized something: We couldn’t afford a decent home there. Begrudgingly, we turned our sights north and eventually found our home in Carmel.
The clichés ensued – we must be “rich” to live in Carmel! Commenters were always incredulous when we explained Carmel had been more affordable than the purportedly “urban” north side communities.
Many label Carmel as pretentious. But pretention is relative. In my experience, some of those who malign Carmel for its asserted exclusivity or insularity reside in Zionsville, Meridian-Kessler, etc. We all justify our choices, and the location of our homes is no different.
Long ago I grew weary of being judged for living in Carmel, by strangers or friends. I believe what’s primary is not where we live, but how. I experience more diversity and community with my neighbors here than I did in Broad Ripple. Those who judge our community based on its brick facades or roundabouts foolishly form an ad hominem argument. People are not so simple, and neither are communities. Life happens in Carmel– rich moments and moments of poverty, contentment, heartbreak, significance.
As I always knew, there is more to the story.