Tuesday, October 12, 2010

I am an urbanite

A good friend of mine currently lives in a busy metropolitan city, but dreams of having a big house in the suburbs. One of these days, she and I will sit down to discuss her desire to live there. But it's made me think of my own strong aversion to suburbia.

First off, I've never lived in a suburb, at least that I remember. I grew up in a very rural setting, with trees and cow pastures, country roads and dirt or gravel driveways. My house was on a street - no neighborhood, no subdivision, no HOA, just a street. It was off the beaten path and away from traffic, but also from people. Sure, we had neighbors, but I had no friends whose houses I could walk to, even if I'd been allowed to walk on the street (I wasn't).

For a too-brief time in college, I lived in Spain in the city of Bilbao. My room was in a dormitory, ten stories up and looking out over a bustling city. I loved it. I could walk out of my door and hop on the bus or the metro. Walk down the street and see families and singletons taking a stroll at all hours. Bop in a bar or restaurant, shop or park. I felt alive for the first time in my life. It was also the first time in my life when I probably went more than a day or two without riding in a car. I knew, then, that I belonged in a city.

Cities in Europe and cities in America are very different animals. American cities are meaner, more gritty. Where I live now, I've managed to capture some of that old European feel here in the U.S.

Things I love about cities, and mine in particular:
Public transportation, sidewalks, parks, paths, the waterfront, activities, shops, restaurants, entertainment, people.

My only hang-up - are cities really good places to raise families? I had wide open spaces and no fear of violence growing up. If I stay in the city, my kids won't really have that. I like to think that they'll have so much more, though. More life, more fun, and more experiences. I guess I just need to pick the right city. I think I've found it.


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