In November we are moving to Evanston, my original home town, but are are not moving away so much as settling in a final (I hope) spot. I really love the neighborhood where we've lived for the last six years. It's called Edgewater, which is between Uptown and Rogers Park, with Andersonville to the west of us and the lake to the east (which explains the name.) I grew up across the street from the lake and always feel a preference to live closer to it if I can--and I'm not even that big a swimmer or boater or anything. Just being able to walk five minutes and see the light off the water, see folks sitting on benches watching it, see the colors of it change, to see what's washed up, is one of the reasons I love where we live (also being right by the El and the bus and two good grocery stores is good, too.) Plus, the park you pass through to get to the lake looks like a magical meadow, if you go when the sun is just right:
Not surprisingly, summer is my favorite time in our neighborhood. I'm glad we're moving when we are because we got one last season of walking Paul to daycare, which is about a mile away. When we walk we pass by the El station, where a CTA attendant talks to him for a few minutes. We stroll by the beautiful old houses in the Lakewood/Balmoral district and see all the other families taking their kids to school. Then, when we pick Paul up, we frequently see our friend Amy walking her son Will home. We walk down Clark street to see what's happening in Andersonville (Andersonville, if you don't know it, is a really cute Swedish neighborhood that's sort of a mix of Boys Town and Lincoln Square, IE gay folks who are a little more dinner party than all-night bar, and families who only take up part of but not all of the sidwalk with their strollers.) Sometimes we stop at a bar for a drink and a bite, if Paul is up for it, or pop by the Farmers Market so I can see my friend Brady (he runs BTrue Bakery, and I know him because he used to do my hair.) We will also check out the Puppet Bike on the way home. (I love that the Puppet Bike is there but I want to know why the Puppets look so...vintage.) Anyway, it's really wonderful to be able to see so many great things and fun people on our neighborhood walk.
I've already written about how we have a great neighbor bar, and that's just part of what makes Edgewater a quirky, true community.
It's got its characters, for sure, like the one guy who just really wants you to know that Jesus loves you, and the blind lady who really doesn't want you to mess with her guide dog, and the guy who sells what seems to be dozens of varieties of incense by the El stop. My favorite was the woman who walked up to me on the sidewalk one morning while I was pregnant and just said, "You're having a boy" before walking off like she'd just dropped a virtual mic. But I've always felt safe, even when walking the dog in the dark at night or in the dark in the morning. I think what helps is that it is a diverse neighborhood full of people who care a lot about it, full of active kids and new parents and the barflys and the old Eastern European people who hang out on the corners and lean on their scooters. The morning after the big blizzard in 2012, we and all our neighbors met in the street to explore the temporary new world that the snow had created.
It has been a a great place to live with a dog and and even greater place to live with a kid: I never felt side-eyed at the playground and once, on the day where we had to teach a very reluctant Paul that he had to hold hands if he wanted to walk on the sidewalk, I got a handful of sympathetic, not judgey looks from some moms who seemed to have seen it all before.
I think we most felt like we were living in the city on the summer evenings when we'd sit on the patio and hear and see and smell all around us the neighbors grilling, partying, chatting in their own decorated little gardens in the city. On the Fourth of July, from our upstairs balcony, we could see the fireworks from the Saddle & Cycle country club across the street--we didn't even have to put on shoes or get dressed to see our own show.
I'll miss just being able to go to the store and back in 15 minutes, being able to take the bus downtown in a 20 minute trip, our summer evening strolls to George's or Zanzibar (both of which serve amazing ice cream and are far enough away to feel like you earned an ice cream cone but close enough that you finish by the time you get home), our FANTASTIC UPS guy Simmy (who I wrote to UPS about because his helpfulness needed to be recognized), of all the trips to Nookie's on Bryn Mawr we took after Paul was born because they accept children and serve all foods. But what makes me smile is knowing that somebody else--I hope--will get to enjoy all these things soon in our stead.
(Even though it would be more elegant to end this piece with the prior paragraph I want to be clear: our house is for sale. I hope someone buys it and enjoys it as much as we did.)