Staking a Claim

Husband and I live in a city which is dangerous and dirty and generally poorly-viewed by other people. And we love it. We live in a way that lets us love it, that is to say, we live in a safe neighborhood and are generally yuppies who try to meet other yuppies and we go to the farmer’s market and the craft fairs and generally do not acknowledge the poverty that surrounds us in a meaningful, world-changing way. Which is a problem, but a problem for another post about how I really want to be living my life (which applies to my New Year’s Resolution post, which I will eventually write.)

Anyway, this article on Offbeat Home about becoming a radical after settling down stirred something in me. I particularly loved this sentiment, "we staked a very public claim that we believe this corner, on a hill, on the plains, will be worth living on for a while". We feel this way about our corner in our city. We believe that our neighborhood is worth living in for awhile. We have sacrificed a lot of possibilities to stay there. We are in the process of trying to make our home what we would like for it to be, and to work with both the advantages and disadvantages of where we are to make our life what we want it to be.

We don’t own a house yet, for a variety of reasons, mainly that in our yuppie neighborhood, we still can’t afford to buy, and that homeownership doesn’t look fun based on what our sisters are going through with their houses and we’re not really ready to commit to a house. Nonetheless, by living in the city, by talking loudly, proudly, about how much we love living in the city, and by not talking about how we’ll buy a house in the suburbs one day, we are, I think, stating as well as we can, that we think our corner of the city is worth living on.

This is an interesting part of growing up. This is one of those things you don’t really expect when you are a little girl, dreaming about being a high powered city lawyer. I thought I would live a glamorous life in a glamorous city, but I never thought about living in a neighborhood, a community, with intention to make that community an even better community. I have never focused my long term or short term goals on contributing to the square city block I live on, outside of my own house. I thought settling down meant growing up, in that "responsibilities and deadlines" kind of way, not in a taking pride and ownership kind of way.

So I think it’s time for a bigger conversation about this. In terms of what being a grownup means, what does it mean to be part of a neighborhood? What does it mean to stake a claim to a community? How do we take pride and ownership of our communities even if we are "just" renters?

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One response to “Staking a Claim

  1. Jo

    I’m trying to figure that out. When I moved here into my house I figured I’d get to know all the neighbors and be involved and look out for people. That’s proving to be harder than I thought, and with my head in a wedding and school, it’s slipped by. It hasn’t left my heart, though. I really want to CARE, and KNOW PEOPLE, and LOOK OUT FOR EACH OTHER. (sorry for the caps).

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