Living in the suburbs has a certain appeal. The area where we lived was lovely. The lawns were well kept. There were so many trees around- even a strip of trees down the middle of the street. They were brilliant green in the spring and summer, and they exploded with color in the fall.
But all of that can get a little boring. People who live in the suburbs tend to get in their cars and go to stores, restaurants, bars, etc., with regularity. The appeal is that you live in a pretty little slice of pseudo-nature, and you can get to where you need to go quickly and easily. But when you can't drive, then this idyllic notion of suburban living begins to fall apart. Life becomes a glorified house arrest.
Our new place is in the city. There aren't as many trees, and I'm surrounded by businesses. I don't hear geese honking, but instead I hear planes landing, and I’m immersed in a variety of other urban chatter too. I'm no longer living in this mini utopia of a suburban home. I'm right in the middle of things, and I think that's where I need to be at this point in my life. I had become tired of staring at trees.
Within walking distance, or wheeling distance in my case, I have access to:
- a post office
- the city municipal offices
- two major grocery stores
- Police and Fire Stations
- A huge drawbridge
- one really cool corner store/butcher shop
- a gourmet sandwich and wine shop
- one higher-end restaurant
- six or seven medium-end restaurants
- a dozen or so fast food or lower-end (quaint) restaurants
- several bars ranging from snotty to redneck
- two city parks
- a nice walking trail that leads to a lighthouse
- a couple of places to get my hair cut
- a bunch of shops such as hardware stores and drugstores and other specialty stores
- my bank
- my primary care physician – yes, my primary care physician that I’ve been driving to from the suburbs for 11 years.
If only there were a dentist and a chocolatier in the neighborhood, I might never have to leave.
I've made a couple of test runs around the community, to gauge the accessibility of the sidewalks and of the various businesses. It's a mixture of good and bad, as you would expect in an older, urban neighborhood. I've seen classier city neighborhoods, such as where my friends live on Tremont Street in Boston. My new neighborhood was in decline for most of the previous 15 years or so, but now seems to be making a comeback. As such, there exists a blend of shiny new buildings and interesting businesses, alongside vacant spaces and dive bars. In this sense, I suppose my neighborhood embodies a cross-section of Americana, especially in these tough times.
But location was only half of the equation. The other requirement was to find a home that would work for me internally – a home that was wheelchair accessible or could easily become such, like the one I was leaving. This was the more difficult task, and I'll discuss it in my next post.
Here’s one quirky story about my new neighborhood. The enormous, white german shepherd who lives next door wails like a siren whenever he hears a siren, and since we're not far from the police and fire stations, this has been a couple of times a day so far. I’ve never heard a more spot-on siren impersonation.