A few nights ago, a group of our friends celebrate a 65th birthday at a restaurant in Little Italy, a short walk down the hill. One of the things we talked about was how lucky we are to have lived here and known one another for twenty-five years.
When we left our apartment two blocks away for the first of the two homes we've lived in here, we were just out of school and didn't realize that by choosing historic and diverse architecture and proximity to the city we were also choosing a whole lifestyle. Our real estate agent insisted upon showing us houses in a neighboring suburb. "All your neighbors will be lawyers!" she enthused. "And the city imposes architectural and color restrictions!" I was appalled. I spent sixty hours a week with other lawyers; I didn't want to live with them, too, and in a house that looked just like all of theirs. And yet, we also didn't realize that by choosing this city, we were choosing diversity and funkiness across the board, along with neighbors and friends who valued the same things.
Our street is about eight blocks long. A lot of the homes, like ours, were built in the 19-teens, but some in the 1960s. Every one is distinct from all of the others. (Although it seems that they are identical in their challenges! Basements, roofs, plumbing, electricity, ductwork and gutters --I now know something about them all. Squirrels and racoons who view attics and chimneys as their private condos. Garages that crumble and ceilings that fall down. Whatever. )
We live in walking distance from most of the institutions mentioned in the article; this afternoon I walked a few blocks to a bakery for a chocolate crepe for lunch. Downtown is a 20 minute drive. When we moved into this house 28 years ago, we marveled at the elderly couple a few doors down who had been here for 35 years. Hmmmm . . . . Well, there are at least two families who have been here longer than we have. And many of our friends and neighbors, like us, have made career changes in which we have stepped off the job transfer track so that we could stay right here.
I love this city.