Tuesday, March 25, 2008
As time has moved along, it's become more obvious to me, that the decision to leave San Francisco was ok, not quite as disastrous as I had feared. This doesn't take away painful twinges we feel most weeks, the "what ifs" and the melancholy memories. One of the things that I liked the best about living there, was being part of a community. A fully formed, functioning place that was the sum of it's parts; people, shops, parks, transportation, entertainment, education.
You'd step out the front door and after carefully maneuvering around the block's angry, cursing, homeless woman, there would be endless shops and hordes of people. Where else in the world could you get Durian and Gooey Duck just feet away from your home, and then walk one more block to the Greek grocery store that stocked goat cheese upon goat cheese and unrefrigerated eggs? We had an amazing fabric store with bolts and bolts of beautiful textiles and small bits of trim and buttons. There was an art center that promoted social awareness and charitable giving. The park, Golden Gate Park, as gorgeous as gorgeous can be. Square miles of heaven; grass, pond, tree and ocean. We had spicy noodle shoppes and fresh coffee with tiny Chinese pastries. Barbers, dentists, doctors, a pet store, a hardware store, a drug store, the cleaners, all crammed next to each other, all in our neighborhood. A real, self-suficiant community. The Muni train rumbled by, every twenty minutes or so, shaking our third floor flat. I miss the that jiggle, the complete lack of solid ground, the phantom whoosh the train made as it would glide out of sight, into the ever present fog of the Outer Sunset.
I do miss it all. Our current house is on a block, in the middle of the country, in the suburbs, on a slow street. It is painfully quiet sometimes and lonely at others. Just as I would look out or large picture window in San Francisco and stare at the people boarding the Muni and think "I can't believe we really live here, how odd." I now stare out our picture window in Michigan and watch the squirrels run across our lawn and think "I can't believe we actually still live here, how odd."
Having children changes everything. In a way, and I might get flamed for this, it's like being a pet parakeet , who gets his wings clipped. Jon's stable job in this very unstable economy, and the fact that Noah is lucky enough to have four wonderful grandparents near by, makes it nearly impossible to move. We would be stupid.
So I accept this mundane existence, here in the Midwest, and try to make the best of it, and try to not let it get to me. I've found a truth, that you can be full of gratitude and thankfulness and walk on eggshells hopping the bottom doesn't fall out, and still at the same time, you can legitimately carry sadness and frustration and confusion along with it.
I know this place has a list of positives and pluses a mile long. I'm lucky, we're lucky. There is just something deep inside me that longs for a place that I belong to a bit better. I've always been a square peg here. This isn't a self-imposed pity party, it's the truth. I was ostracized for being different as a kid and even as a young adult and now, as a parent, I still feel slightly different. I've found wonderful friends over the years, they love me for who I am , but that enormous, amazing, creative freedom I was allowed on the streets of San Francisco, was something rarely replicated. The pulse of energy, the colors and sounds and openness, the liberal calls equality, it clicked with me.
Someday, maybe we'll be back. But, I never saw myself as much of a "west coast person", and in fact, even as a small girl, I always assumed my place on this planet was in New York City. Only time will play out this story, and I know, my job is to find the good stuff and the fun in our Michigan home. Things are slowly evolving, and I've caught glimpses of "good fit" coming about. Noah was accepted for next year, into a school for gifted children. It's run by open-thinking, creative and interesting people. The parents I've met have been so welcoming to us, they're supportive, non-judgemental and just the quirkiest bunch of wonderful. I have high hopes.
This post was supposed to be about bicycles and walkable communities. About my hunt for a bike, one with a basket for groceries and a seat for Noah. I have managed once again to go off on a tangent. Here is the link, you see, although we do technically live in a "suburb" of Detroit, Jon and I chose to live in one of the original cities and towns that dot the main Detroit Avenue, as it extends north. We live adjacent to, about three blocks away, from a city that is coined as a "walkable Community", something that is vaguely like our old San Francisco neighborhood. Supposedly, you can walk to grocery stores and restaurants, coffee shoppes, and theaters, doctor's offices and banks. You can, it just takes a bit by foot, but on a bike, how fantastic! So, in honor of traditional communities, my hate of urban sprawl, our planet's lack of natural resources and good old, exercise, I've gotten it in my head that I want to shop by bike this summer.
The bicycle I currently own is sadly in horrible shape. My father gave it to me in 1995, as a way to get around campus. I have to admit that hauling this big bike and my heavy backpack in and out of my dorm everyday, up to the fifth floor, did not appeal to me so well and it has suffered some Michigan rain storms and even snow. So now it's time for a new bike. I know EXACTLY what I want...............
a fabulous, Dutch shopping bike, like the jorg & olif Scout Bike in red. But, alas, it's quite expensive, and then even more expensive once you add in international shipping and import tax, and the cost of final assembly AND a child's seat AND a large basket. So, I continue to search for the perfect "urban or city bike" as they are now being called, but domestically.
That's what this post was going to be about, just driving around on my bike this summer. Make sure you check out THIS page, to see what I want my life to be like, even in Michigan!