Every year, usually in the summer, I run a constant list of pros and cons to living in the city. Summer, because that's when the streets bake and the garbage stinks and the noise of construction makes open windows unendurable. I long for fresh breezes and cool grass. I want to hear birds, not jackhammers.
Then the weather turns colder and I'm glad I don't have to dig a car out of a snowdrift and worry about road conditions. I have no idea how much gas costs.
I want to grow vegetables. I want Naomi and Miriam to have their own little backyard world to make mud pies and play in a sprinkler and build a clubhouse. I want to join a swim club that won't bend me over with fees (while plying me with free drinks) and expect me to be as well-connected as the Bushes.
I am less enamoured of my urban lifestyle these days. I started noticing how much time I spend in retail stores. I shop when I'm bored, when I need to put Naomi down for a nap in the stroller, when I'm stressed out after a long day. Within blocks of my house are two huge bookstores, every variety of the gap (including maternity and outlet), the Children's Place, two H&M's, and dozens more. There is a long list of things that I covet. Even though I know many of these things I covet are made by foriegn hands not much bigger than Naomi's, I buy them and wear them, proud of the bargain I got.
I buy more than I need because I can't pass up a bargain. Sure, last week at the gap I got three shirts and reversible skirt (like two skirts in one!) for less than $40, but it was three more shirts than I needed, and $40 I really couldn't afford to spend.
I might take better care of what I already have if I didn't have ready access to cheap replacements. I wear something once and it goes to the basement for laundering, and I may not see it again for a month. My consumption appalls me. I am firmly entrenched in the orbit of the huge retail chains.
Where I plan to move, there is a walkable downtown with plenty of crap to want. But the purveyors of that crap are small businesses instead of retail giants. Independant coffeehouses, used books and cd stores, independant knitting and craft stores. It is a place much more in line with the values I'd like to raise my girls by. I love to fantasize about getting a building with retail space and opening a crunchy mommy store with non-plastic sippy cups, slings, diapers, books, lactation services, discussion groups, and free coffee all day long. But in reality I'll probably end up with something like this*.
* that's a real estate listing for a duplex, the link probably won't work for long.