Friday, March 6, 2009

Living space

I've had this idea brewing in my head for a while amid various conversations and posts from other bloggers. It's something I've meant to expound upon for myself as well as for the blogosphere, which I know has vast interest in my brewed ideas. I shall now pour. The official title is Why We Live Where We Live.

DH and I found a house in the 'burbs after we got married. A lot of it had to do with school systems: the Buffalo public schools have a lot to be desired, with about two notable exceptions, and we figured if we were paying the taxes, why not have them pay for a great education for our future kids? We also do love having a yard, a fire pit, and an upstairs. We have a plow guy. He rocks.

We bandied about the idea of finding a place in the city of Buffalo, particularly the Elmwood Village which has cool little stores and people walking (dogs, babies, selves) and restaurants and a crazy guy who wears a wetsuit in the summer and bars and a co-op and all sorts of nifty treats like that. We thought perhaps we could find something and our future child could go to one of the few really good public/charter schools here. A couple of snags cropped up:
  • - Could we find someplace we could a) afford, b) want to live in for an extended period of time (or at all), and c) have some form of yard/measure of safety? I know you can't live in a bubble, but T honestly had more concern over that than I did. Hell, I'd worked in the Buffalo Public Schools.
  • - What if our future child did not get into one of those schools? The good charter schools are all lottery and the two really good public schools are very difficult to get into. We are not made of money and can't really afford the steep tuition of private schools or even the smaller Catholic schools. Well, we could, but we could do little else.
I realize these concerns may make me sound elitist and miserly, but hey, it's how we felt. We both love so many aspects of city living, but we realized, particularly in terms of schools, what we wanted did not fall within city limits. So we jumped on the White Flight train, if you want to look at it that way (we don't), and we found a house in one of the suburbs. I think DH's final straw came the day before we moved when, walking back from the pizza place on the corner, some kid tried to jack his pizza. Did I mention my husband's 6'5"? He told the kid to take off (well, he didn't use the word "take") and announced how glad he was to be moving when he got back. More crime, more crazies bothering you at the gas station, less space, yes.

But we used to live in that Elmwood Village, where the block clubs actually worked and I could walk to my favorite coffee house. There were actual SIDEWALKS and people of different races. We do miss that, a lot. People out here all go out to Red Lobster and Olive Garden on Saturday nights and will wait for TWO HOURS for a table. Seriously. We've sworn never to do this. It's a little hard to meet people, partly because we've been here for a relatively short time and don't know the inner workings, and partly because as DINKs (double income, no kids), we make up a minority here, thus far. For some reason I feel as though people in my 'burb don't strike up conversations in the same way people on Elmwood do. I don't know if it's a mindset or my preconception.

I suppose it's a tradeoff, just like everything else. I try very hard to maintain my friendships with people who live in Buffalo itself, and T and I make a point of going in for the occasional restaurant or party. I love living where I do, and while it has its drawbacks, I want to make a life where I am while reminding myself that a whole culture thrives a scant 15-20 minutes away. And I want to learn more about the community I'm in.

Does any of this make any sense, or have I just ranted and rambled? It is Friday afternoon, after all, and I've had a very busy week in which, for some reason, I felt that if I heard one more plaintive "Mrs. Frau..." I would scream, "WHAT?!!?!?" in the poor kid's face. Fortunately I did not do this, but I'm ready for the weekend, is what I'm sayin'.

Oh, U.S. people, don't forget to turn your clocks back. We do lose that hour of sleep but the precious sunlight will make up for it, in my mind.

Have a good one, folks! I'm off to enjoy the 50 degree weather for as long as it lasts.


Wonderland said...

Spring FORWARD. Not fall back. Love you!

die Frau said...

Yes, yes, forward. I knew that. I was writing it on Friday afternoon after my wacky week....

Ouiser said...

we struggle, and i know the feather nesters do, with this concept of suburbia on a regular basis. we are lucky to live in "downtown," so we can still walk to things, but it is hard to give up co-ops and whatnot. it works, though...but if i ever hear of your waiting 2 hours for red lobster, i will fly to orchard park and smack you.