Sure, I could have skimmed off the top of those off shore accounts of ours and built myself a fancy triple decker, balcony-ed, three car garage, paved driveway kind of house on a pretty goose-poop pond, but I've always believed in living closer to the bone. Supporting the core. "Keepin' it real" -so to speak.
Life in the inner city with its police tape and hash pipes, halfway houses and thieving neighbours. The opportunities for expanding your children's vocabularies. (Mom? What does f*** mean?) Coming home from church to find your kiddie pool full of mud, the hose running, and couch cushions a la dumpster surrounding the trampoline.
Yep, those were the days. If we weren't so shrewd, we'd have sold off our rubies and convertibles, paid for Brian's second degree in cash, and hunkered down in the 'burbs with their fences and by-laws, and their high-falutin' working neighbours. However. That would have made it way harder to walk to Superstore for their 9:00 AM dented can specials or the library for free book reading, or to the YMYWCA to swim with the locals. There would have been a lot fewer interactions with Percy the straight-talking street guy, or the busy little lady who wore mittens all summer, peed her pants as she wandered, and lay in the public parks to let the sun dry her off.
Yeah, the more I think about it, we just wouldn't have fit in with the regular Joneses.
So, when life in that city ended, we began to look for a new nest for our family. Oh, it wasn't a question of finances, of this I'm sure you're aware. What with my almost Bachelor of Arts degree and four snotty children hanging off my folds, I was highly employable. My husband had two impressive degrees to consider, and a promising new career position on the horizon. Yep, nothing like a private school salary to put you in the market for a sprawling five bedroom character home with a sun porch and wrap-around deck.
But we resisted.
We remembered our commitment to inner city, busy streets, and fascinating neighbours. We fondly reminisced about the early morning sounds of beer bottles clanging (Beer Vendor- Open 9:00 AM!), New Year's Eve celebrations on nearby rooftops, accompanied by the sounds of intermittent brown bottles hitting the sidewalks below, and our nature-loving next-door neighbours who preferred urinating on our fence to the inconvenience of stepping back indoors.
So, when we moved to Hoo-Ville we resisted the urge to build our dream home on the golf course and decided to renew our commitment to the core. The hood. The slums. We sent all our excess funds to Save The Polar Bears And Melting Ice Caps and invested in a modest one and a half storey with crooked stairs and drafty windows. We're just selfless that way.
We were soon made very aware that Brandon had nothing on Hoo-Ville. Our neighbours here made the drunken pissers back home look like a weekend in Paris on beds of down and fine wine. But in time, we nudged them out and nestled into our new nest with its convenient location close to schools, parks, churches.... lots, and lots of churches....and of course, the thrift shop. Life in the heart of the city needed us.
With the wisdom that comes with age and selfless devotion to my home and community, I decided to become involved in the politics of this burgeoning goose-poop and walk-out basement blossoming town and attended my first ever public hearing. There had been some mention of re-zoning and other obscure notations about changes to by-laws involving unlicensed home daycare providers. My high-profile, at times imposing persona seemed indispensable. Not that I felt threatened in any way.
Embracing the latent sophisticate within, I slipped into place in the board room. That epicenter of local power and prestige. Two presentations in, it became immediately apparent to me that the town had bigger fish to fry than to waste their time going after a pock-faced, middle-aged, sun-darkened daycare lady with a gaggle of happy preschoolers mucking up her back yard.
The re-zoning proposals were primarily about a high-end housing development gone bad. A golf course that never got beyond gopher holes and dandelions. Five hundred thousand dollar homes on streets that are sinking into some sort of bog. Man-made lakes flanked by railroad tracks and empty lots. Lots of prairie grasses, crickets, and residents several hundred thousand dollars in the lurch.
If only they'd known what we did.
About life in the old lane.
With our opulent lots bordered on either side by generous church spaces, great big mature trees, and big, wide driveways. With neighbours who would never notice whether a dayhome increased traffic on the street since the teens on the end of the street roar up and down roughly eight hundred thousand times hourly. Where enormous church lots remove any issue of parking, pick-ups, or drop-offs. And where occasional rental homes sprinkled into the residential mix means that property values hinge more closely on dandelion prevalence than square footage or building specs.
I bet all those two vehicle, triple decked, spare bedroomed, leather couched, hardwood floored suburbanites wish they were more like us. I bet they wished they had given all their money to the poor, volunteered at helping hands, and bought their knickers at the Re-store.
But hey. At the very least, they might have the wondrous oppurtunity to take on a second or third job, and bring their kids to daycare.
In the core.
**so you may have figured out that the town meeting about re-zoning and daycare by-laws was not so scarey. That they are in no way trying to drive out The Little Guy. That I am actually really very happy to live in the old part of town because the likelihood of my neighbours getting their panties in a bundle about people going in and out of my house is exceedingly slim. The town is not at all interested in legislating how people like me operate. So, there was no need for me to get silly about the whole thing, but it was awfully fun! Thanks for joining this friendly middle-aged kid-lovin' mama in some sarcastic rambles about life and living.