Monday, April 14, 2008
Race and place (off-topic)
So after 16 years of living in the midwest--a place I hated passionately for at least the first 6 or 7--I've come to appreciate some of its finer points. Like the access to nature. The relative cleanliness of my small city. The neighborly feeling on our block and on many blocks.
I'm actually going to miss all that when we head east to Orange Country this summer. But there are things I won't miss, like the totally whitebread nature of our small city.
We bought a house this weekend (a house!) in the university neighborhood, which, unlike the one in this small midwestern city, is gritty and urban and integrated. I remember when we moved here from Manhattan's Lower East Side. I remember thinking, Where are all the African American people? They're here, of course, but there's not much integration here. People divide along race and class lines. I don't think I've made a single black friend since moving to the Midwest.
On our new block, on a chilly Saturday afternoon, we saw two kids on bikes. One was learning to ride. The other was running along beside her friend, holding on. Both were black. Both were adorable. A few minutes later we were able to meet one of the families on the street, a white couple in their late 50s with two soon-to-be-adopted African American daughters, former foster children. They were friendly-ish, and I'm looking forward to getting to know their family better.
Right now, our move seems scary and ridiculous. I mean, why change everything when we're relatively comfortable? So what if I don't love my job? How do I know I'll like the new one any better?**
But another part of me looks forward to adventure and change and challenge. Or at least it will when I can shake this damn midwestern flu we've all had going for weeks now.
Our new house has no fireplace (even though we've hardly used ours I like having it) and very little yard, but it does have a pantry, which will be lovely once we've gutted and redone the kitchen, redone the roof, stripped the godawful paint off the woodwork, installed full-size toilets (for some reason the previous occupants put in teeny-tiny toilets; maybe they all had teeny-tiny tushies), redone the attic, propped up the carriage house in the backyard (which Mr. Professor is thrilled to have), and a few other things.
I'm going to grow some things in pots this year in the front yard. Next year we'll figure out how to put in some raised beds somewhere. I'm a rotten gardener but I love picking veggies out of the backyard.
There's a metaphor in here somewhere, but I'm too congested to figure it out.
**The boss thing I already know is better. My new department chair is fabulous--warm, friendly, outgoing, funny.