One Year Into the Adventure

One Year Into the Adventure

One year ago today, Bruce and I signed a thick stack of papers in our realtor’s office, picked up the keys for this old city rowhome, and moved in with sleeping bags, pillows and a box of tools. It was the beginning of a new and, according to some of our family and friends, crazy, adventure.

In our now 28 years of marriage (today’s also our anniversary – and yes, last year we moved into this place on our 27th!), we’ve lived on ten acres of rural woods and meadows at the foot of a mountain, in lookalike houses in suburban subdivisions, and on quiet streets in sleepy little towns, in New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia and England. We’d talked about one day living in a city, but the timing had never been quite right.

We had some vague notions about what a move to the city might offer. We wanted to be in a community with a wide range of people, perspectives and ideas. We wanted to downsize and simplify. We wanted to reduce our dependence on cars, to live in a place where we can walk to many of the places we want or need to go. We wanted to be close to art, music, history, theater and cultural events. We wanted to become engaged in a vibrant, diverse community and to figure out how we might contribute to it. We wanted to be challenged, pushed out of the safe and comfortable little box we’d been living in for years.

And as the saying goes, “Be careful what you wish for. You just might get it.”

We have been challenged this year, on several levels. The 8 months of renovation work, with continual noise, dust and chaos, tested our patience, our energy and our good humor. We’ve felt a sense of loss at not seeing treasured friends we’d made in Etown as often as we used to. We’ve felt disoriented, navigating different streets, different routines, different rhythms of daily life.

Like the renovation project on the house, sometimes in order to adapt and move forward ourselves, we’ve had to first tear something down – old ways of thinking, old ways of doing things, fears and prejudices and wrong ideas we didn’t even realize we had.

We’ve been incredibly fortunate, too. We’ve been able to get out and enjoy some of what the city offers – lively street festivals, concerts, speakers, cultural events. We’ve walked miles up and down the streets and alleys of the city, exploring, observing, learning about the history of this place. Bruce has captured some glimpses of city life in these great photos.

We’ve been lucky, too, to have neighbors on both sides, and up and down the street who have welcomed and invited us into their homes and into the neighborhood. We’ve had picnics and breakfasts and parties and dinners together, worked on neighborhood improvement projects together, had lots of thought-provoking conversations and lots of laughter, and swapped information and ideas. And we look out for and help each other. We have, in a word, community.

It’s much like the vision of community that John Winthrop, the first governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, offered his fellow colonists back in 1630: “We must delight in each other, make others’ conditions our own, rejoice together, mourn together, labor and suffer together, always having before our eyes our community as members of the same body.”

Beyond our little street, of course, there’s the much larger city, with many more people with whom to rejoice, mourn, labor and suffer. With much more challenging conversations to engage in. With many more needs to address and “neighborhood improvements” to be made. Bruce and I are both working at engaging in the larger life of the city, and figuring out how we might contribute to it in helpful and meaningful ways. That will be a much longer process, with lots more for us to learn. One that will no doubt be a journey of fits and starts, sometimes “one step forward, two steps back.” A spiral path, rather than a straight line.

We’ve got our walking shoes on.

Posted by Melanie Tagged as: city life lancaster pa

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