The surprisingly strong pull of urban living

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February 28, 2005 // UPDATED 1:52 pm - April 26, 2007
By: Shawn Marie Christenson
Shawn Marie Christenson

Sometimes I find myself caught up in an inner debate as to whether I should continue living Downtown or not. Usually, this is spurred on by those who don't live here and question why I'd stay. It's been nearly two decades, after all. Isn't it high time for a change?

According to Them, I could go the suburbs and have a house and a backyard and less crime and better role models for my child. I could work out there and escape the chaos of the Downtown corporate world. I could drive my own car instead of taking the bus or the skyways. I could send my kid to that "nice school" with the playground, parking and community involvement it needs - plus, I could have a fabulous swimming pool. I could give up on this ever-changing city, where yet another condo building is (noisily) being created right outside my window. There, I'll find the Wal-marts and Rainbows that we can't find Downtown.

Ah, the lure of suburban bliss .

Or, I could just stay here.

This may seem like an easy decision to some. As I said, many have tried to sway me away from urban living, proclaiming the beauty and peace and sanity the suburbs hold. However.

I love the fact that I don't have the house to keep up with ("Hello, maintenance? My sink is leaking.") or the backyard to be mowed or the driveway to be shoveled. I don't think the crime is that much lower in the 'burbs and, the role models may be more "cookie cutter" there; the diversity here in the city is a lesson in itself for my child.

I love the corporate environment Downtown and the fact that so many large companies reside here. We're in the heart of a thriving metropolis, and I enjoy the options within it. I'm not thrilled with the lines for grabbing a lunch, but I'd rather run upstairs to The Fusion Grill in Gaviidae on 5th & Nicollet Mall and wait than sit in my car at the Burger King drive-thru anytime.

I love that my commute doesn't involve sitting in traffic for hours when I can, instead, hop a bus across the street for 50 cents and be at work in the 10 minutes it takes me to skim the headlines. Or, if I get ambitious and go back on that exercise kick, I can traverse the skyways on foot instead and make it there in 15.

I love that my daughter Gracie goes to a city school (Interdistrict Downtown School on 10th & Hennepin) along with kids from the suburbs and city alike (11 districts total) and, therefore, experiences a true reflection of the real world. They may not have the parking and the playground or the pool, but the Downtown Y on 11th & Nicollet Mall is helping on the latter - and we will hopefully see that parking and playground one day soon.

Maybe it's the fact that there is already a community here that stops me from packing up and heading for the "greener" pastures.

And maybe, as much as I complain about the noisy jackhammers outside my window, I can also admit that I love the fact that this city is progressing and ever-growing. I've watched it for 19 years now, and one thing is certain: I'd sure hate to miss a beat.

No, we don't have access to major grocers until Lunds arrives in 2006, and one Target on 9th & Nicollet Mall takes care of my household and health and beauty needs. Still, tell me how in the suburbs you can step outside your door and hit hundreds of clubs and stores and restaurants within a five-minute walk? Tell me they have the Mosaic Arts Fest and Aquatennial and Holidazzle parades, etc. for which others drive in and scramble to park Downtown. Tell me there are fireworks right outside of your window that dance over the Mississippi River.

NOTHING tops fireworks over the Mississippi River.

And so my ongoing debate shall continue - and it seems Downtown will continue to win. For all of the "pros" of suburban living, urban living always holds its own advantages as well.

Sometimes, this place is just a city. I'll admit to that. However, I suspect that somehow throughout the years it also became something different and bigger and more important to me .

It's home.

Shawn Marie Christenson lives with her daughter near the Mississippi riverfront.