Tuesday, December 11, 2007

That At-Home Feeling

When I walked into our house for the first time, when we were looking for houses, I knew I was home. I knew that I wanted to live here, to raise my family here.

And now I live here. It's been a month now. My feelings have not changed. It feels like home. Having explored some of the surrounding area, I'm even happier.

At first, I only ventured to places within a block. There's a pizza place on the corner, just a few houses down from us. Another half-block up from Art of Pizza is Dona Torta, a mexican eatery. There's a Jewel-Osco across the street, a Starbuck's the other way, a Jimmy John's down the street from there, and a cozy little diner, S & G, across the street from the Jimmy John's. All of these places are five minutes or less from our house - walking.

This is what I'd had in mind when I wanted to stay in the city. Our condo was great and all, but there was less within walking distance. We were five minutes from many places, but driving.

I've only mentioned a few places, but there are many other retail stores and services filling in the gaps between the places I've mentioned and beyond. There are several bars and restaurants, a couple of music stores, a couple of sushi places, a pawn shop, a couple of banks, a couple learning centers for JD to choose from, an art store, and more. I'd say at least 90% of these storefronts are independently owned and operated, which I favor patronizing.

I feel no urban sprawl, no cookie cutter existence. I'm in the best that urban living has to offer. This, to me, is what I'd envisioned in being the Downtown Dad. We can walk to the many parks that are nearby. I will walk JD to Burley Elementary, the public school that's two blocks away. Maybe he'll take music lessons at our own "School of Rock" (yes, there is a music school here with that name. I don't know if there's any relationship with the movie.) And all of this if we never venture out of our immediate neighborhood.

I'm already a happier person and we have a happier family. The downside is the cost and my wife's increased commute. It feels much more grown up. Even more than that, I feel my family is even more solidified.

From the time I moved into the condo, we were in a transitional state. I moved in two months before we were married. Then, my wife was pregnant with JD the following spring. We anticipated moving the next fall, but things didn't work out, as that was the beginning of the real estate bear market. We spent all of last summer showing our house and finding neighborhoods and houses that we wanted to be in. Finally, we're in a place where we'll stay for years beyond our planning.

We've got room for expansion. There's plenty that can be improved. But we're dug in. We're vested. And if things that make me this happy keep happening on a consistent basis, I'll be a fortunate man.

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