Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Please Park Me In Park Slope

I blogged earlier in the week about feeling a bit adrift geographically. It's difficult to find your niche, to find a place where you truly belong. Like I said before, there's kind of an East coast destiny hanging over my head, but who knows............

A couple years ago, Ilya was exalting the virtues of Brooklyn and Prospect Park. It sounded like a young, energetic place to live, diverse and exciting. Before Ilya's stories, I really didn't know much about Brooklyn. My grandparents lives in Manhattan and then later at the foot of the George Washington bridge on the New Jersey side. When I was in middle school, my father lived for a while on 72nd and something that skips my mind, on the upper west side. My Aunt and Uncle and cousin lived in Westchester, and my Dad's most fabulous girlfriend, Esther, she lived with her most fabulously thick accent in Jamaica, Queens. So, for most of my life, Brooklyn was an enigma. But then a couple of years ago, everyone moved to Brooklyn, and the stories really began to interest me.

Now Tom and his girlfriend Momoko have moved, they just got an apartment in Park Slope. Tom sent me THIS video of their housewarming party and THIS short article on Park Slope and now I am hooked. It seems, that Park Slope is the Noe Valley equivalent, only in New York, not San Francisco. It is the "family" neighborhood, with kids on stoops, running all over the place. Even better than wonderful Noe Valley, it has gorgeous Prospect Park right there. How perfect a life would be, living in Park Slope and I feel the pull to be there, chatting with my liberal, intellectual Mom friends who have one cherished, token child, and we all go out to eat at some fabulous vegetarian dim sum together.

Sigh......but however exciting and wonderful and diverse life would be in Park Slope, I can't bear to take Noah away from all that he knows and loves. It's so hard.


Richelieu said...

Noe Valley has wild parrots and it doesn't snow. Brooklyn has Tom and Naheed and Ilya. Tough call.

Kendra Lynn said...

Sounds like a really lovely neighborhood. I really want out of the Detroit suburbs. I hate it here.
Wayyy too much traffic and too many concrete streets. Not enough trees...ugh.
New Jersey is nice...where Scott's parents are, but we couldn't bear to move the girls from my parents or their aunts and uncles. See...its not easy for anybody. And then, there is sunny Cali...oh man. Love it there, too! But..too expensive and far away.
Sigh. I guess none of us can have it perfect, right?


Jeremy said...

If the public schools didn't suck so badly, I would move to Indian Village or Corktown in Detroit.

I guess I could always send the kids to private schools... but, I digest.

There are some "niche" areas around here, but then again, you're still stuck in Michigan.

Dutch said...

Jeremy, for the amount you save on your mortgage every year by living in Detroit, you can pretty easily send your kid(s) to private school. We do and probably will continue to. Living here is cheap, plus in my opinion you get a lot more house for your money. Where I live, I don't even need to worry about taxes and insurance---it's all in the coop fee., which itself keeps down the cost of the mortgage.

lauren, I can't help but chime in and say but for the reticence of a few thousand good people who are afraid to live anywhere but the suburbs, detroit has the potential to be the kind of place you're longing for. we already have lots of friends on our same wavelength here with kids with whom we can also talk about things like art, politics, architecture, city life, and music. we have one car and rarely use it. we walk to eastern market 2-3 times a week for fresh produce, cheese, wine, coffee, you name it. we will soon have an upscale grocery store in brush park. a new grocery store we will be able to walk to without crossing a road is also opening soon. we walk to downtown restaurants. we walk to tigers games and festivals. soon the dequindre cut will connect our neighborhood, eastern market, and the riverfront for jogging, biking, rollerskating, and more walking.

I'm not trying to suggest you should move to detroit. where you live is your business and where one chooses to live are personal decisions I have no interest in judging. I'm merely trying to provide an alternative to the perspective that most suburbanites have ("You can't raise kids there"! well, not unless you want to take them to art museums with endless priceless masterpieces, science museums, history museums, edgy galleries, sporting events, festivals, parades, the best YMCA in the region, show them architectural masterpieces, and raise them in an environment where they will gain perspective on the fact that not everyone in the world is rich, or white, or lucky). It is a real, vibrant city and there are thousands of people raising their kids here, many because they actually want to. and you live close to it too.

remember: we've lived the san francisco/brooklyn lifestyle, and I have to say, I am much happier living in downtown detroit than I ever was in san francisco.

Anonymous said...

you might consider just doing some traveling. It is a good way to experinece different things if you don't want to uproot your life.


Jeremy said...

Good comment Dutch - I totally agree with you.

The McGeehins said...

Excellent comment/information from Dutch. Where in Detroit does Dutch live? We have looked previously in Detroit/Edison & Indian Village since we absolutely love the homes, but didn't have a grasp of kids in the neighborhood, the neighborhood vibe, etc. Appreciate any additional insight!

wallace said...

to Dutch.

I grew up in Metro Detroit--- love the city and made use of all the cultural, educational and social opportunities it provides. I have also lived in two Major US cities, as well as, rural New England. I think you are painting a picture of one small area of a once great city.

I guess I would define city life differently. My definition would include neighborhoods, multiculturalism, and reliable social services. It is fun to celebrate the diversity of different neighborhoods whether it is walking the streets of Noe Valley, resale shopping in the Mission, playing catch at Crissy Fields. In Detroit, I struggle to find this, it was long destroyed by racism and ignorance. I run at Belle Isle and find it to be an isolating experience. The island a mere shadow of the beautiful, gem it once was. I walk around Hamtramck and I love some of the local coffee shops, bakeries, and shops but in truth there is no community here. The Bangladeshis hang with the Bangladeshis, the Blacks with the Blacks, and Poles with the Poles. The New Center looks like a bomb hit it. Don't get me wrong there are small pockets but I guess it would be nice to have more than one option for produce, pizza, or laundry. Realistically, there is no diversity in Detroit. I love meeting people from different cultures and backgrounds. I think the burbs have more to offer than the city. I have met so many interesting people here including H'mongs, Cambodians, Chinese, Vietnamese, Japanese, Iranians, Chaldeans, Lebanese, and Eritreans. I don't believe that exists in Detroit. I love the Arts but without the suburbs there would be no Opera, Symphony, Science Center, DIA, Detroit Historical Museum, etc. I like to know the police will come when I have an intruder or an ambulance in an emergency.

I am all for giving your child the best education possible private or public but aren't you sending your children to private school with lots of "rich," lucky," "white" kids? Don't get me wrong, I think people should think about moving to Detroit and helping make it change but until city services get better and taxes on personal income are abolished

I agree with you, Detroit has potential and l hope more people do move down there but there has to be more than a simple face lift. More than one area that needs reconstruction and residents should be penalized for working outside the city.

Dutch said...

hi wallace (god I love this new follow-up comments e-mail thing from blogger).

well, you have suggested I am "painting a picture of one small area of a once great city." well, I am talking about downtown. if you want to call downtown a small area of a once great city, I suppose you're entitled to think so, but even someone bristling with typical suburban excuses for why no white person should be happy living in detroit could deny that downtown is a relatively important small area of a once great city.

you know, from the way you describe detroit I don't even feel like we're talking about the same city. no community in hamtramck? belle isle isolating? new center like a bomb crater? no diversity in detroit? that last one is laughable. just because some asians are just as frightened of black people as whites does not make the suburbs cool. reminds me of how people loved to tout the diversity of san francisco--- because diversity is fun when no one is poor! yeah, ethnic restaurants!!! I always laughed at all the diversity lovers in san francisco who loved to eat at the trendy ethnic restaurants with other white people just like them. diversity is about more than the ethnic food you shit out.

and as for schools, no I am not sending my child to a private school with lots of "rich," lucky," "white" kids. her class is half black kids. one kid is a muslim, another is from brazil. there are a few kids of white parents who, like us, believe that detroit is a place worth raising children. no, it's not cranbrook. but then again, I'm not typical: I'd rather send my kids to the DPS than cranbrook. they'd certainly end up doing less drugs.

I have reacted pretty strongly here. it's funny because I did not start by saying anything bad about the suburbs. some "metro" detroiters are so defensive that I can't write one positive thing about raising my kids in detroit without hearing the whole BS litany of excuses about why the city sucks. every time. why can't some suburbanites just accept that we love living here?