Sunday, May 2, 2010

Look both ways -- a tale of a city and its suburbs

Having someone in from out of town helps you see where you live with new eyes.

When my brother-in-law visited, I was kind of psyched that after my husband picked him up at Union Station, they got enjoy a lovely drive through the District -- past the monuments -- at dusk on a perfect summer-feeling evening (not very April-feeling, but still about as nice as it gets). I felt some pride in the fact that they found delicious gelato in Georgetown on a Friday night and that our visitor enjoyed the next day's trip to MOMs, the natural food store we frequent most often.

And yet, I appreciate what living in a log cabin in rural Maine affords my BIL and what kind of rhythm that can foster. Sometimes I feel like I should live in the woods instead of just in a house that backs up to the woods, but I know I value urban life and convenience too much. I love being able to walk to a mini downtown, even if its restaurants are not organic. The grocery has some decent produce, and the library is right there. It feels like a community. And when Metro is not delayed or overstuffed with tourists, I think it's pretty cool that I can hop on it and in less than 15 minutes, be at the American Art museum across the street from the library I attend an ICAN meeting.

This weekend, I was wary of track work delays on the Metro, so I decided to drive up to Bethesda to work the Holistic Moms table for a Celebrate Mama event. Now that downtown is one hoppin' place. Lots of cool shops and restaurants. But even if we could afford to buy a home there -- our house would probably sell for an extra $200K if it were plopped down in that zip code -- I don't think I would ever want to dress well enough and be cute enough to fit in.

So there is my living-on-the-border self. Not a homesteader, not a chic city girl or hip suburbanite, either. I liked driving up on Massachusetts and Wisconsin Avenues and seeing all the urban, cultural stuff going on. But it was busy and a little overwhelming, so on the way home, I took the Beltway to the GW Parkway, and I enjoyed the quiet serenity of the tree-lined and river-lined route, even though it was probably a couple more miles.

Although sometimes having too many options gets overwhelming (can anyone say Internet?), I do find that I like to put myself in the position of having them.

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