Couples Therapy, Part II: Love Where You Live Before You Leave
I’ve lived in my home in the Maryland on South Temple for three years, and in that time, I have enjoyed fall-time jaunts through the Avenues and had more stupefyingly-pretty walks down the tree-lined sidewalks of South Temple than I can count--though, somehow, it’s still not as many as I’d have liked. I have relished every day of my stay here, so it pains me to say that soon I’ll be leaving (yes, I’ll be heading south--away from my cozy South Temple spot--to a picturesque plot in 9th & 9th).
I’m super excited for my new project, but I have to say, it’s amazing how quickly knowing you’re moving can change your awareness of where you currently are. For instance, there’s a yoga studio in the Avenues that--when I first moved here from Olympus Cove--I swore I’d go to every week. Cut to three years later, and I’ve still only stepped through the door a handful of times. With my move-out date looming, I’ve been forced to ponder how I could have enjoyed my ‘hood to its fullest potential, and I’m bound and determined to do it before I leave (luckily, construction takes a looong time, so I’ve got a minute). So, as a follow-up to my last Couples Therapy installment (on fostering a healthy relationship with your city), I’m going to break it down a bit further and tell you how to get the most out of your neighborhood. Save yourself any future mover’s remorse, and pay attention. Love where you live before you leave.
1.) Walk your ‘hood. Take a different route every day...nothing will dull your appreciation of the surroundings like obsessive repitition. Mix it up. And go at different times of the day; you’d be amazed how much lighting affects the way you see your surroundings. Walk with a purpose, whether it be discovering a building or house you’ve never noticed before, or meeting somebody new. Or, walk with NO purpose, and see what the Universe throws in your path. Most of the best local gems are hidden in plain sight, so get to snoopin’.
2.) Do your research. We all have coffee shops/markets/restaurants we go to habitually, but usually we don’t even think to check and see if what we need is already where we are. Before you hop in your car to grab yourself a sandwich, check online to see if you can get what you need from your own (figurative) backyard. Know before you go--you might just uncover your new favorite local spot.
3.) Reconsider what you define as “walkable”. It’s a term that gets thrown around a lot these days, but most people have a pretty warped notion of what qualifies as “walkable”. Really, it’s anywhere you can walk to, and that’s just about everywhere. In the last week, I’ve walked to the Broadway Theater, to our cityhomeCOLLECTIVE office, to East Liberty Tap House to grab a bite with friends, and to Federal Heights for a morning run. For me, there’s nothing more satisfying than walking home from a night out downtown and enjoying every piece of architecture along the way. I recently read a quote by Rebecca Solnit that sums it up superbly: “Home is everywhere you can walk to.”
4.) Become somebody’s Norm. And I mean that in the way that Norm was a regular at Cheers and Ross was a regular at Central Perk. It’s nice when the servers know your name, or when the barista knows your order the minute you walk in. You know those friends of yours that pull weight at the club or restaurant and get right in every time? That happens because they’re regulars. It’s a prime example of putting energy into your neighborhood that comes right back to you. If you want to go where everybody knows your name, go introduce yourself to somebody. (Pro-tip: As a shortcut, bring your people into your ‘hood. I love strong-arming my friends into moving into whatever neighborhood I’m currently living in. Voila! Instant community.)
5.) Set a hypothetical move-out date. There’s nothing like a real, in-pen, on-the-calendar, move-out date to light a fire under your ass. Knowing that there is an actual evacuation date gives you a tangible countdown--you’ll feel more content when you move on to the next big adventure if you’ve done all the things you wanted to do during this one. If you want to try a sort of trial run, set a hypothetical “out by” date, and experience all the stuff you’ve been putting off by then. You’d be amazed at how many local restaurants, coffee shops, or (ahem) yoga studios you can go to in a year when the clock is ticking. Or, on the flipside, if you’re considering a move, give that ‘hood a good walk-through first to see how it suits you (and then give cityhomeCOLLECTIVE a call, already).
I’m actually writing from a window seat at Avenues Bistro. Sitting here, I’m reminded of a winter storm a few years back, when every place in town was closed except this one. We trekked through the snow, and arrived to find the whole neighborhood here, fogging up the windows (nothing like a blustery tempest to give you a true sense of community). Hopefully this list will help you gain some perspective on all the goods you’ve got right at your fingertips before they’re gone (or, as the case may be, before you’re gone). If what you want isn’t there, bring it in! Find what your neighborhood is lacking, and fill the void. Make it better. Make it yours. What are you waiting for? It’s like Ferris Bueller so wisely said: “Life happens pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” So carpe diem. Carpe ‘hood. (And I’ll see you at Avenues Yoga.)