Friday, March 16, 2012

My Place

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.


  1. Robin, I enjoyed this post as my daughter and her family have chosen to live in the older area of her city. She wants her children to grow up with diversity of all types. Their neighbours include older people with no children rather than just young professionals with children as seems to be the case with the suburbs. They can walk downtown, to the farmers' market, to many parks and all sorts of other amenities. They love where they live - except perhaps some of the challenges of an older home!!

  2. I have to admit,we looked at some outer ring developments last time around. Those shiny new houses with big bathrooms have their appeal, that's for sure. I sometimes wonder how differently we might have lived out there. I'm sure it would have been fine, but this is close to perfect -- in its own way, of course.

  3. Your neighborhood sounds wonderful, but I'm a product of the suburbs. I remember my Mom's relatives would come out from the city to visit, and they were appalled that we had well water and a septic tank. They honestly thought we lived as close as you could be to a farm without actually owning livestock. We grew up in a home on a half-acre lot...I always feel claustrophobic in the city.

  4. Any chance of a few pictures of the streetscape for someone who lives "down under"? I imagine two storey white weatherboard houses without front fences with double hung windows with 6 panes of glass in each half.

  5. Pretty close, except a lot of the houses, including ours, are brick.

    Lisa, I grew up on 12 acres in the country and it's beautiful. But I love the city more each year.

  6. Robin, thank you for this great portrait of our homeplace. I love it here too, and I needed to hear this after hearing several folks are moving from here "because of the schools". I am a proud resident and proud of the diversity here. Yay us!