My dad was raised in Southeast Washington DC, in the era just before those poor streets turned mean streets. My mother’s DC-born parents raised their family in the Maryland countryside outside DC. And together, my parents picked country over city and bought a big slice of Maryland farmland where me and my siblings grew up. Very rural. I mean, not in a dramatic, Little House on the Prairie way, but in a prepare-to-walk-a-mile-if-you-want-to-see-a-neighbor way.
For undergrad, I chose Gettysburg College. So, when I finally left the farm, it wasn’t to a big city, but a quaint little town immersed in Americana. Still, it was a town. A pretty town, where I discovered the joy of walking to restaurants and passing people on the streets. And then I studied abroad outside Madrid, growing bolder in my love for the Metropolitan life.
And then, what happened post-graduation? We–me and Joe–moved to New York City. I had visited NYC for all of 6 hours (ever, in my life) when I made the decision that I would follow Joe there to graduate school. Growing up, DC was always “The City”. And I liked our family trips there well enough. (Coincidentally, Joe was born in the District, and spent a few early years there before being mostly raised in DC’s sprawling suburbia.) But NYC is my true city love. I could fill a whole blog with my love for that place. Maybe someday, I will. And not the glamorous shopping on 5th avenue, drinks in Soho NYC. That was never my NYC. I fell in love with the sootier Chinese street food in Flushing and rooftops in the LES NYC. And maybe a little less so with the Midtown hustle NYC where I worked, but still. We lived there for 2 years, and Joe got his degree.
Next? We moved again, to a “small” Chinese city of 6 million people. In China. An altogether different experience–equal parts crazy, eye-opening, fun, and strange.
But, for the past 5 years, we have been back to small town living in America. Which is fine–better than fine, in fact. It’s a perfectly nice place to live. But I guess my point is: part of what’s exciting about spending a fall in Miami is being back in a real city again. To discover new crowded streets and lug my groceries home over blocks of sidewalk and stop for a coffee on my way to the library.
It’s hard to say whether city life will eventually find me again in the future, but I’m going to enjoy it while I can.