Urban living

I can tell when people are not ready for true urban living. They’ve never seen people selling drugs out of the car in front of the house. Or people running down the street with guns in their hands. You will see that here. You will see grown men pull down their pants and take a poop in front of you. You will see that here. I hate to see people move in and get terrified. Maybe it is best you don’t move here.

— Scott Roberts, as quoted in October 3, 2007 Washington Post article

This reminded me of something said amongst a gathering of TC residents, that some folks (and at one time they themselves) are a little naive about living over here. Some folks are cut out for it, some aren’t and it is a pity when you’ve bought the house or sign the lease to find out that the handful of urban things you thought you could deal with, you can’t. Maybe you came from a place where the police come quickly when you call. Here, they might come, but you call anyway, ’cause you never know.
There are also assumptions, points of view regarding how to live and expectations that aren’t met. The police thing is one. Litter is another, kids and adults will toss trash on the ground like it’s nothing. I’d like it if the elementary kids would keep their language PG, I know I need to lower my expectations, but I just can’t.
But it all isn’t that bad. I and some of my neighbors have some kick a$$ commutes, with no bumper to bumper anything. Within a two mile radius there are about a hundred arts/ cultural events going on. And in this neighborhood, like the neighborhood I grew up in, I know my neighbors, I know people in my neighborhood and there is a genuine joy I feel when I bump into them on the street or elsewhere in the city.

2 thoughts on “Urban living”

  1. I live in Shaw now. I’m from the inner city on the West Coast. I knew what to expect. After 2 years in Shaw I’m tired of it now and I’m about to move. This was first Apartment after Grad School and I’m working to pay exhorbitant NW rent but I still have all the blight problems listed above. Thats the big difference for me, coming from humble beginnings the neighborhood issues weren’t a shock I just want more value for my high rent now that I’m a professional and work 12 hour days to pay someone else’s mortgage. It’s a great convenience living here, my commute is faster into downtown than it would be from Columbia Heights or Woodley Park and the city entertainment is close but the problems are a daily cost I had underevaluated. If you’re a young man out here you have to deal with disrespect and foul language around your woman friends. Some streets you also just get kids being loud and flailing there arms around to try and touch you to start altercations. As a man you’re a challenge and might be fun to fight. I can handle myself with no problems in ordinary circumstances but here I’m alone in these kids’ neighborhood where I can be followed every day. I also don’t feel comfortable letting my lady walk from her car to the apartment alone because of the cat calls. Sometimes I think how convenient it must be to live in a neighborhood where I could let my girfriend run out of the house at night in shorts if she forgot her curling iron in the car. These are costs that one needs to evaluate closely before deciding to move to Shaw or Mt. Vernon area or Petworth or other revitalizing hotspots. I knew when I moved here what it would be like but there is value in having peace on the street that now I’m willing to pay for with a longer commute or even higher rent.

  2. Truth be told, I haven’t seen any public defecation in the neighborhood in a few years.

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