Saturday, April 5, 2008

City Life

I have a lot of conversations about living in the city. There was the recent thread at 4Real which I finally quit because it was taking up way too much of my time, but I also get into this topic with a lot of friends in real life or via e-mail. Robyn asked me once why I feel so passionately about convincing people about city living. A lot feeds my desire to share this life with others.

I've found that people make a lot of assumptions about city life. I'm sure that many of these assumptions are based on actual observations about some cities. I think a lot of the assumptions are based on television and movies as well. I'm not a big consumer of television or movies but, from what I've seen, these media tend to portray extremes of city life. A few assumptions I have heard over the years that are not true of me or my neighborhood:
I am extroverted.
I love to shop.
My neighborhood is dangerous and I am, therefore, exceptionally brave.
I have a large wardrobe.
I am politically liberal.
I feel called to minister in an exceptional way to the poor.
I don't know my neighbors and they don't know each other.
I don't like nature.

And so on. Some assumptions about city living are true of my neighborhood and they just don't bother me. It is noisy here--our front window is about six feet from the street. It is "dirty" in the city, I guess. Our neighborhood is particularly bad with litter but this is not the norm. Country living seems dirtier to me. That might be just a personality thing. It is crowded. Houses in my neighborhood are attached together and there are plenty of apartment buildings and condominiums. We are the only renters in a condo building and our apartment is basically the first floor of a row-house. There are drug dealers in front of my building, people do get mugged in my neighborhood and there are even shootings not too far from me. I have never been asked to buy drugs, I have never been mugged, and I have never heard gun shots. We would not live here if we felt that our family was in danger.

I think cities are misunderstood and have thus been largely abandoned and neglected by those most able to effect change: families. I've decided to start an occasional series of posts aiming to simply show you city life. Maybe I'll include commentary on why something seems good or bad to me or why something about my city is succeeding or failing, but mostly I just want to show you our urban way of living. I'll try to share honestly. I'll try to share things that seem to particularly illustrate what is urban about our life. I will certainly be glad to share about a topic of particular interest to readers if you leave me a comment. There will not be any particular schedule for these posts because I can't commit to blogging in that way but I'll try to be regular--I have a lot to share.

And with that I'll close. I had intended to post my first installment now but I've been interrupted many times by a little girl who has now fallen asleep. I need to start dinner, among other things, but I may be back later.


Anonymous said...

susan, I like your list of "assumptions" that people have made because you live in the city. I've heard them all too. thanks for keeping your ponderings going here!
I walked away from 4 Real with one assumption about country life intact, but I don't have time to get into it now...
lisa in Peoria

Robyn said...

Thursday night I went to a friend's art show in Dumbo. Last night Dave went out with work friends to see a band play in Williamsburg. Today we went to my doctor's new office in Soho. So much cool here that I love and am tempted to think, 'we should live in THESE neighborhoods! They are so cool!' and then I think, living in the cool neighborhoods would remind me that I am not.

So, I think I am better off in Bay Ridge.

And, my friend Amy asked me to come over and help her put in her garden. So that's good. All we did was discuss what she should put in, but Andrew got covered in dirt and I LOVE THAT.

So, my needs to grub about in nature might be met here in NYC after all. Who knew?

Anonymous said...

check out

this is an example of the neighborhoods near me part of the "walk to work" initiative....