i was walking home today, through my urban neighborhood of tightly-packed twins and rowhouses, and found a bona-fide garden – in a bona-fide backyard! the large house that fronted it must have been a hold-over from when my part of the city was a brand-new, upper-upper middle class streetcar suburb to center city philly – but there it was: a backyard. with flowers, even!

last weekend, my roommate and i went to a friend’s house for dinner (two midwestern fellas had offered to cook us, natives of illinois and iowa, pulled-pork sandwiches with sweet corn on the side – true taste of home!). our host lives in the ‘burbs, and as we got out of the car in front of the house, we both slowly turned around and tried to absorb what we were seeing – and hearing! birds were singing in trees that stood in yards that separated free-standing houses with driveways and garages which meant that there was no loud SEPTA bus declaring “welcome to [pause] route xx [pause] service to [pause] xxx” every ten minutes outside the bedroom window.

we had forgotten about the suburbs! i doubt either of us would trade our cosy little third-floor walkup tucked in the middle of philly for a roomy colonial outside the city, SEPTA bus notwithstanding, but it was like being on vacation for an evening – quite novel!

i grew up in a neighborhood like my friend’s, but now is the time to live in an urban neighborhood – to see people who look very different from me on every street i cross. now is my chance to buy fruit from the back of the truck permanently parked two blocks away; to get my cheesesteak from another truck parked by the train station. when else will i get to walk to a trolleystop for my daily commute, or hop off three stops early to pick up fresh veg at the farmer’s market in the neighborhood park? and how else would i get to learn about things in the city that could be better – systems that need fixing – and to think about how to help fix them? yah, this is the time for me to be in the city. the suburbs will always be open for visiting hours, but home is still here.