I do like living in a city. I like being able to walk to a bar or restaurant. I like having the dry cleaner on the corner. I like having a big park right at the end of the block and the Schuylkill River and boat houses at the bottom of the hill. When we moved out here I was really looking forward to not having to drive 20 minutes just to get dinner.
Now, I’m thinking that driving 20 minutes is a good thing. I’m tired of living on top of my neighbors and having them live on top of us. I’m tired of hearing five different conversations in five different back yards when I go out into our back yard. I’m tired of picking up trash that’s blowing around the street. I can hear the assholes doing donuts at 3:00am in the intersection at the bottom of the hill by the boat houses. I’m tired of the dirt bikes and quad runners that go up and down the street all day every day in the summer. They go through intersections without regard for traffic lights. I’m tired of constant traffic noise.
Some of these things are uniquely Philly, but some of them are endemic to cities everywhere. I lived in San Francisco for a few years and my parents lived there for 25 years. There are obviously different feels to each city, a different vibe, but some things are the same. Right now, the convenience and liveliness of city living are outweighed by the noise, crowding, and lessening quality of life. And, here in Philly, I don’t see that improving any time soon.
Some of my exhaustion and frustration is driven by recent events, especially these riots. A week’s worth of riots. An ATM a block north of us was blown up. There’s a protest and march tomorrow on the Parkway. Hopefully it stays quiet and there’s no accompanying looting. But, they’ve closed the entire downtown area (what we call Center City) and the Parkway from the Art Museum to 22nd. That means, on this, the first weekend of freedom from lock down, we can’t actually go anywhere.
(Yes, yes. I get why people are protesting. But, they’re losing any impact they may have had and the focus is now on preventing looting rather than actual justice and police reform. Please spare me the lectures on “privilege” etc.)
In the end, my general frustrations with city life have combined with the frustrations of the lock down (and hearing all of my upstairs neighbor’s work phone calls) and now riots, to make me think that no neighbors for at least a mile around is a very good thing. If you’d told me that 15 years ago I would have laughed at you. I really do like the energy of cities. But now, I think a visit of a few days will satisfy that itch. I know that some people are going to say we’re giving up. Well, yes, we are. But we’re walking away after 15 years living here. I think we’ve given it a fair shot. And, in the end, on top of everything is the feeling that we need to be closer to family than a six-hour flight (if we can get a direct flight).
So, in the end, we’ll be looking for something that’s got some space around it. And, likely driving 20 minutes to go to dinner. And, honestly, if I can hear crickets at night when I open the window, I’ll be happy. I’d be happier if I could hear waves, but that’s for later…
Have a good weekend, all!