Having grown up—mostly—in rural areas, I was a bit suspicious—and intimidated—by the idea of living in town, much less in a large city. I had the notion, perhaps well reinforced by family, friends and the movies, that life in an urban area would be loud and dangerous. Well, that can certainly be true…
But I also found that living in a city could be quiet and pleasant. What I discovered is that in many respects what city you live in isn’t nearly as important as which neighborhood. While the city certainly affects many conveniences and opportunities, safety and quality of life often operate in far smaller zones.
When we lived on Mitchell Avenue in Saint Joseph, we were literally across the street from the city-designated “high crime” district. On one occasion during the four years we lived there, someone broke out the window of our car and stole the in-dash CD player. Otherwise, we weren’t targeted.
Nonetheless, there was the regular noise of neighbors fighting and yelling at each other, the constant harangue of pickup trucks with very loud exhausts and the perpetual single car drag races away from the traffic light a block away. There was also the consternation of aesthetic hostility; you couldn’t look out any window or in any direction without seeing ugly. Broken down cars sitting along the curb, trash piled in someone’s back yard, junk piled in someone’s front yard, weeds growing six feet tall along the alley, broken windows in a deserted house.
Go three blocks east or three blocks south and it was completely different. Well maintained homes, well-tended yards, cars with four fully inflated tires, etc.
Here in Ark City, we’ve lucked out again. We live in an amazingly quiet neighborhood. Very little traffic, neighbors who keep their places looking good. People who respect each other and live considerate lives. I reckon even heaven will be more about the people who live there than about the zip code. Although I hear the weather is pretty good, too.