Can I tell you a secret?
At heart, I’m an urbanite.
I didn’t know this about myself until we moved to Italy. We lived right on the corner of two major streets. I went to sleep every night with the not-so-quiet hum of Italian drivers circling the roundabout in front of our bedroom window. I loved it.
I didn’t realize quite how much I loved it until we moved back to suburbia in Florida. No more walking to get my fruit and veggies. We drive the kids to school now. I can walk around my whole block and not see one person. There is an energy I lived on that is gone now. I’ll be honest, I need it back. I’ll spare you the details, but after doing several personality and strengths-finding type assessments, I’ve learned that I NEED the urban. I was made for it, quite frankly.
When I first realized this, a whole heck of a lot made sense. I gained energy from those around me, so be surrounded by silence and empty streets sucked energy. But I was also a little bitter. We had just bought a house in the land of suburbia. No plans to change our residence any time soon. . . . so was I destined to have the energy sucked out of me forever?
My sweet husband came up with a practical solution. I need to travel to New York City on a regular basis (at least annually).
This was actually a huge step in moving out of depression. Depression is a sucking of all energy until there is just none left to live productively on. I’ve learned that when a lot is being drained through the sieve of my emotional tank, I have to work hard to make extra big refills. Walking the streets of NYC and coming alive with its energy was a huge refill.
I went for the first time last Fall, and stayed at this absolutely delightful brownstone on the West Side, two blocks from Central Park. It is a house specifically for pastors and missionaries traveling through the city. As such, rooms are rock-bottom rates. They aren’t anything fancy, but it’s clean, quiet, comfortable and in a perfect location. Oh, and the perfect price.
I was in the city for two and a half days. I walked and walked and walked. I felt cool air blowing on my cheeks. I sat in Starbucks and watched people. I ate incredible ethnic food. I stopped in countless unique shops and bought nothing. I rode every method of public transportation possible. It was glorious!! I came home full. So very full.
One day, I hope the Lord takes us back to the middle of a city. I’m not even that particular which one. I know it will be a long time until that happens. So I work hard to experience the urban in my surburbia. I shop downtown at a local market where people recognize me. I look people in the eye and wonder about their lives. We made the decision to enroll Hannah in a much more ethnically and social diverse Middle School–not for my benefit but it’s diversity was a definite value in the decision. I am working hard to have my life connect with the lives of as many as possible. And I’m planning my next trip to New York. Hopefully next time Cody will come with me.
There you have it, my dirty little secret. I’m an urbanite living in a suburban world.