Sunday, May 27, 2007

The Places in My Neighborhood

In a lot of ways, I'm really excited to move to our new place. New layout, new start. One of the things I'm not so excited about is the new neighborhood. Oh, the block we're moving to is nice enough. Actually, there's a hospital across the street, which I guess is a little strange, but it looks like a mansion and the grounds are gorgeous.

The thing is, I really like my current neighborhood. I'm moving from Rittenhouse Square to Washington Square and Rittenhouse wins best neighborhood in my book hands down. I love being so close to the park in Rittenhouse Square. I'll be reasonably close to another park in my neighborhood, which is nice enough but it's not the same as Rittenhouse. Going to the park in Rittenhouse is like an event. There are usually tons of people; some picnicking, some painting, some doing yoga. In the summer, there are so many sunbathers there, you would think you were at the beach. Washington Square just isn't the same. It seems so much smaller to me, although it's really not much smaller. There aren't as many people usually. And since Rittenhouse is surrounded by shops and restaurants, and Washington Square is surrounded by historic landmarks, the vibe is just decidedly less social there. At least in my experience. I don't go to parks to make friends. But I do go for the vibe.

You can't swing a dead cat without hitting a little byob restaurant in Rittenhouse. Plus it's so close to the trail along the Schuykill River. Now Washington Square does have some restaurants, but not really as many or as much variety--you kind of need to go to Old City for that. I'm not sure why, but I've never been much for Old City. And Washington Square isn't far from the Delaware River, but the Delaware River waterfront, in my opinion, is one of the city's crowning disappointments.

I'll miss being so close to Chaucer's, which is one of our favorite places to chill out and get a beer. I'll really, really miss my gym. It's certainly not the largest nor does it have the best equipment or amenties. But the people are nice and keep to themselves. It's not a meat market and it's not intimidating. In the new neighborhood, my choices are the 12th Street Gym or the Philadelphia Sports Club. Both are nicer, with better equipment than my current gym, but neither have me itching to join.

I'll also miss being so close to my church, which right now is just around the block from me (incidentally, so is my gym). I'll still attend my current church though, even once we move, because I just love it and I really don't like St. John's, which is closer not where we'll be living. There's also Old St. Joseph's, which won't be too far from us, but I've never been there. I'll probably check it out, but I'm sure I'll remain a parishioner of St. Patrick's. There's a fruit market, Maxx's Produce, across the street from St. Patrick's and one of my favorite rituals is picking up some fresh fruit (I swear they have the best fruit salads) on my way home from Mass.

Although there some many things that drive me insane about our current apartment (like the carpeted bathroom), there are some things I'll miss. Like the crown molding. And the staircase, which is beautiful, even though the owner isn't properly taking care of the wood. And the tall, narrow windows on either side of our bedroom. On cool nights, with the windows open, you get a wonderful breeze, plus a view of the trees and moon. It's like floating in heaven.

Although I am willing to part with our apartment, I do have pangs of regret about leaving our neighborhood. We've been here for 4 years and it feels like home. Even though we're not super-friendly people, it has been nice getting to know the pastor of our church, the lady who runs the produce store, the morning workers at the gym, the bartender at Chaucer's. It's cozy, comfortable, and all neighborhood-y. The new neighborhood will have some advantages too, I'm sure.

And sometimes I wonder if I feel so nostaglic about my current place because it's where I lived before I was married, and then as a newlywed. It's where I've spent the last years of my carefree life. I love that some of my biggest concerns are getting to my gym in the morning and what little restaurant Ron and I might try next. In the new neighborhood, our lives will be drastically different, not just because everything we love is no longer right around the corner, but because our impending little bundle of joy will turn that carefree life we have upside down.



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