Originally Posted on September 19, 2005
About fifteen years ago, I remember a conversation with a friend regarding my life in the Bay Area. I was asked if I would consider living in the city of San Francisco. Honestly, it did cross my mind, but I was content with life in San Rafael, a mere twenty miles away.
In retrospect, life in San Francisco made sense. After 1993, I stopped owning a car, so I relied on public transportation and the occasional rented car. I love the fact of urban living for the convenience of having everything within blocks away or a short bus, train or taxi ride. Urban living also had the added bonus of access to nightlife and other social opportunities.
Last month, I moved into a wonderful home in Minneapolis. A duplex in the Southeast part of the city about two blocks from the Mississippi River with access to the transit and other conveniences. Granted, it is not the major urban ideal I had in mind back in San Francisco, but the neighborhood is simply fantastic and the house has a certain urban neighborhood charm.
The Longfellow district, specifically the Cooper neighborhood, goes back over 90 years when the homes in the area started popping up. It was mainly a working-class neighborhood, now it is very diverse in terms of socio-economic and ethnic terms. Talking with a friend from Illinois over the weekend, I equated this neighborhood to Chicago’s Jefferson Park area, northwest of The Loop. I’m sure that I’ll find other neighborhood to compare this to, but nothing compares to the feeling of home I get living here.
If you walk around the neighborhood, you will find lots of bungalows with ample yard space front and back. Also, there are plenty of cottage-style homes closer to the river. The area has a definitely left bent politically, as seen from the yard signs during this municipal election. There are also plenty of gay and lesbian folks in the neighborhood as well.
I live in one of the duplexes in the basement. The place is very comfortable and easy to manage. The short distance to good dining and other conveniences, such as coffeehouses and retail, also help add value to this wonderful new place. In fact, I had lunch with some friends on Sunday at this wonderful restaurant just two blocks from home. I can see inviting folks out here for future dinners and Sunday Brunches.
In years past, I felt comfortable at the home I lived in, but felt so removed from all of the fun and access to things I need and enjoy. It certainly doesn’t help if you live in suburbia without a car and somewhat adequate public transportation. With this new home, I can do so much more than previous residences afforded me. Even with public transport, reasonable cab rates and wider choices, I can meet folks for dinner or have coffee with the fellas. Hell, I can beeline to the Mall of America for some serious shopping…while dodging the tourists.
Living in an urban oasis has its plusses and minuses. I believe in being safe and secure and there are times where you do cross into undesirable neighborhoods. I guess my L.A. upbringing, coupled with some trail-and-error situations early on in my life, helps me be a bit more protective around those situations, but that doesn’t mean I have some sort of fear. Avoidance is an alternative, but you have to face crazy situations sometimes and be strong in dealing with them. If you want to test that out, go to San Francisco. Better yet, live in the Bay Area for a while.
In all, I am truly enjoying my new home and this wonderful Minneapolis existence. There is so much to learn and so much to do to get settled. After the flurry of activity this weekend to make my room and the bathroom livable, I can start relaxing. Oh, but there will always be another project somewhere to do…maybe next month. In the meantime, I better start scoping out more cool new places around town.