Wednesday, April 23, 2008

City Mouse/Country Mouse?

After my last post, I received a lot of comments and emails saying how sad it was that Sam is growing up without a backyard. It was an interesting response given that is not at all how I meant it.

Because I am a city girl.

Much as I like nature and love hiking, skiing and mountain biking, I am not fond of the suburbs. For what we paid on our condo in the city, we could easily afford a large, suburban house outside the city belt. If we decided to move to OH, we could even afford a McMansion. R and I choose where we live.

I love Boston for a million reasons (although, note to my husband: I always would prefer NYC). Even though we do not live directly downtown, I love that we live within walking distance of the subway and the opportunity to visit 8 million museums. There are always plays to see, exhibits to attend and festivals to wander. I love the pace and culture of a city.

I do not think it is sad at all for a child to grow up in the city. We take her to parks everyday where she sees children of all different cultures. Last night, she played with the young Guatemalan sons of a two-dad family, an extremely friendly 4-year-old Russian girl and three other children who did not speak English. I am thrilled for her that she will have all these opportunities to expand her world. I spent six years of my childhood, from 10-16 living in the burbs and I am sorry about that.

Once we moved up here, a whole world opened up to me--a world where anything was possible. Of course, one aspect of that is always the people who live in any given town as well as the culture. We did not move to the city itself when I moved up here, but we did move to an extremely liberal town just a few minutes outside the city where children were expected to succeed at levels I had never even fathomed before.

Ultimately, a suburb can be great. But it depends on the suburb. And the ones worth living in around here are all twice the price of our condo. We have to work to get there. I like that. From some people's perspective, R and I are doing quite well at 30. We own a condo, we have 1.5 children, a dog and a cat. We both have advanced degrees and make a decent amount of money. We could just be done.

But we are not. That is the beauty of what a city in general and Boston in particular afford us. Right now, I feel like we are only halfway towards our goals and when I compare myself to some of the people I graduated from high school with up here, I actually feel behind. I like that. I want Sam exposed to the amazing diversity and competition and excitement of a city. Of course, I also want her exposed to nature, but she has that in the lake house. She will learn to ski next winter. She will be snowshoeing, tracking deer, kayaking, water skiing and enjoying hikes within the next couple years--every weekend if she wants it.

And then she will get back to her real life in the city. I know it is not for everyone, but for me and my family, this is the preferable way to live. Someday we may desire a backyard and lawn. But even then, it will not be far from a city. If and when we buy a single family, it will be within walking distance of everything we could possibly need. That is just how we roll.

So, I am sorry if I made it sound like something I was sad about. In fact, I am anything but. The only thing that makes me sad is the idea that I might have to someday leave the city behind.


Lis Garrett said...

With the exception of the person who commented, "That's so sad," I don't think we felt you were lamenting living in the city (at least I didn't think you were).

I think it all depends on what you are accustomed to. I grew up in a neighborhood, and I currently live on a heavily-wooded acre lot a few miles outside of town (I would love to own even more land). I like the fact that we live in a diversified college town (Cornell and Ithaca Collage) a few hours from NYC. Like you, we can take our kids to the Farmer's Market or downtown where they can be exposed to people of all races, ethnicities, and backgrounds. But the one thing we appreciate is the slow-paced life of our little town. I've visited NYC once, and city life is definitely NOT for me - LOL! - and I certainly wouldn't fit in. I'm simply too unsophisticated and plain. I'm more apt to be found on a farm than on a city street.

It's great if you can be happy where you are. Isn't that what everyone wants anyway?

M said...

I think it's great you love the city. We live in the suburbs of D.C. with a backyard the size of a double garage. Hahaha. We mow our lawn in about 15 minutes flat. And while my family can't imagine why I'd want to pay over a half million dollars to live a spit's distance from my neighbors- it's perfect for us. And while we don't live directly in the city, to a lot of people they would consider this the city. Whatever works for you is what's important.

Editorgirl said...

I didn't think you sounded sad about it. I agree with you about city living, but C's dream was to live in the far out suburbs - joy. I'm adjusting, but man, it's WAY quiet at night out here! Hope you are well.