The City Mouse and the Country Mouse
I spent the first 28 years of my life living in East Boston, at the time, an Italian, Catholic, blue collar community in Boston. I enjoyed growing up there, especially when I was quite young. I have so many fond memories...
~the milk man delivering ice cold glass bottles of milk to our doorstep. The bottles were covered with little paper caps. That milk tasted so much better than any milk today.
~the traveling amusement truck that wound it's way up and down the one way streets. The one I remember most was the The Whip.
~the man selling watermelons off his truck.
~the ice cream truck playing its music during hot summer nights, while kids rushed up and down the block with popsicles and fudgsicles.
~playing marbles in the sewer grates that aligned the sidewalk.
~families sitting outside on the doorsteps every warm summer evening.
~spending the mornings playing with the ants that lived in the brick foundation of our house. I had named 2 of the ants Susan and John. I even had an ant hospital, which was a hole in the telephone pole. The ants would go there when they had been accidentally stepped on . Hey, I was an only child...
Yup, life was good. But, as I entered my pre-teen years, East Boston began to change. Crime and drug use was increasing, housing was becoming run-down, the school system was in disarray, racism was rampant, desegregation/busing was being enforced within the school system and rioting and civil disobedience was becoming the norm. As the years went on, trouble was available if you chose to find it. Thank God that through common sense and a mom who brought me up to have a mind of my own...I didn't go looking for it....much *g*.
At 18, I went to Boston College...what an awakening that was for me. I had grown up in a major city, yet remained pretty insulated. It took going to a major university for me to meet anyone who wasn't Catholic or Jewish. Yup, it took me 18 years to meet a Protestant or an African American. I didn't live at BC, I commuted instead, traveling an hour and a half each way. I loved BC, it enabled me to meet people that I wouldn't have if I had not ventured out of the insular confines of East boston...people of other cultures, other nationalities, other races, and other religions.
Boston had a lot of attraction for a newly graduated, now working, young adult with some free money to spend. I worked in the financial district with many others my same age. We had so much fun at work and especially after work. Almost every night involved hitting a Boston watering hole either in the financial district or the area surrounding Fanueil Hall Marketplace. I think I sowed my wild oats during this time...from what I can remember of it *g*.
Shortly after this, I fell in love with my husband to be. We talked often about where we wanted to live and both agreed that the city was not where we wanted our kids to grow up. Plus, Boston had become incredibly expensive. Housing prices were astronomical. I wanted to be a stay at home mom while my kids were small, and there would be no way to ever do that in Boston and own a house. So, we moved. To Aiken, South Carolina. My husband's dad lived there, we had visited and fallen in love with the town.
Living in Aiken is like being on vacation every day. I have now lived here for 16 years, but sometimes I just can't believe how fortunate I am. I have a yard! A whole acre! Hey, that's a big deal for someone who grew up with a patch of concrete as a yard. My yard is filled with squirrels, birds, a stray bunny or two, moles, an occasional snake. I've had opposums and raccoons in my carport and I've even seen an armadillo crossing the street. Hee, the only wildlife I saw in Boston was pigeons, rats, and skunks. The first time I went grocery shopping in Aiken and pulled into my carport and then carried my groceries up 5 stairs...I thought I had died and gone to heaven. What a change from double parked cars and 3 flights of stairs! I have a pool! My God...who ever thought I would have a pool? I feel like I live at a hotel *g*. Aiken is just wonderful. I love that it has a little bit of everything... shopping areas, malls, fast food, movie theaters, restaurants and then, country lanes, wooded trails, horse pastures, polo fields. It's green, not grey. Aiken also has the largest park set in an urban area (nearly 2000 acres)...Hitchcock Woods. We have spent may days hiking through those woods...memories I'll always cherish.
Anyway, I am grateful to have grown up in Boston when I did. I'll always remember the close-knit communtiy that I experienced there as a child, knowing everyone you bumped into, walking to the corner store, chatting with the next door neighbor from window to window across the alleyway. But I am so blessed to now experience the peacefulness and beauty of living a less hectic lifestyle, of savoring a sunset, or seeing a star filled sky not obscured by lights. I truly have had the best of both worlds.