Tuesday, March 10, 2009

City Life.

I'm living in Albuquerque full time now and there are things about living in the city that are different from what I expected. Why is this a big deal? Because I have always lived in the suburbs. Always. I think I wrote about this once: mini-baboo was doing an acestry project, and asked me where "our people" were from. I told him, the suburbs. As long as there have been suburbs, there have been Our People.

Here are some things I've noticed about living in the city:

1. Freeways. I have always avoided these; mostly because it took forever to get to one. But now I live about a mile from I-40, and work about a mile from I25. Everything is a quick jump on the freeway. On, Off.

2. Just as DP promised, I am 15-20 minutes away from everything I want to do. Work, School, international food stores, organic hippie stores, far
mer's markets, used book stores, upscale hibrow fancy schmancy stores. Not so the suburbs, which are almost completely and insanely crowded big box chains and nothing interesting to see.

3. Diversity. There are interesting places where the signs are in some language I don't know, and I'm not just talking about Spanish. There are temples, markets, restaurants that serve food I've never had before. There are people who don't speak English and don't need to, because their whole neighborhood speaks their language.

4. Scary city parts.
Parts that, when I drive through them, I lock my doors and sit reeeeeeeal low. Parts where people walk across the street (and NOT at the crosswalk) staring me down, DARING me to hit them. They don't hurry. They saunter. So unlike the suburbs, where everyone is safe and nobody ever walks. It's interesting knowing that it exists. (Not interesting enough to hang out there, mind you.) We're talking about places where it's not all that unusual to maybe see a car on fire, and nobody's really paying attention, other than, "hey, kids, better stay away from that car, it's on fire."

5. Alternative transit. There is a single bus in the suburb where I used to live, for a population of over 60,000 people. Riding your bike was a dangerous proposition. There were few places to walk, and a higher liklihood of being run down by someone driving a HUMMER who had never been in the military and doesn't know how to drive one. Usually the HUMMER drivers are housewives on their way to their manicure. Where I live now, there are buses, sidewalks, bike lanes, and a train.

6. Places to walk and run. As I mentioned, it was hard to bike in the suburb where I lived. Running was similarly frustrating. Everything that was paved was the realm of the car, and never shall the runner dare to touch it. Baboo had cars swerve at him deliberately, just to mess with him. I've seen cars race to beat runners and cyclists to intersections. The cyclists in the Burque, though, are a little more organized, and more militant. Good for them. Meanwhile, there is a system of connected, paved, dedicated paths all throughout the city by which one can run, walk, or cycle pretty much to anywhere in the city, safely.

7. History. Albuquerque is 300 years old. Actually, it's been around longer than that, but the place known as, "Albuquerque" has been here for 300 years. I'm in the process of trying to learn what I can about it. My previous suburban city was incorporated around 1980. Cool.

8. Politics. without going into a lot of detail, while living in the suburbs I was basically that wild and crazy hippie vegetarian chick. Albuquerque, though, is a bastion of liberal thought, much of it far more weird that you can imagine and than I'm willing to entertain, and the end result is that, in Albuquerque, I come off as a boring, concrete soccer mom. But it's delightful, just delightful, the "Whirrled Peas" and, "COEXIST" bumber stickers.

9. My friends. Almost all my friends live here, on this side of the river. They are the best part, and they, like everything else, are all about 15-20 minutes away.
Oops! almost forgot:
10. Kitch. I. love. it. It's Route 66, it's Native American reservations, there's almost no end to the kitch .


  1. You've enumerated the reasons I live in the inner city. I quit the 'burbs for Montrose when I was 19 and never looked back. My parents tried for more than a decade to lure me back. As if. They have finally given up in despair.

    Is that train pic the new one that goes from Belen to ABQ? I'm very curious about it, since I would probably want to use it quite often when I inherit the Bosque property.

  2. Forgot to add, good luck with that "go on and hit me" swagger in the poor parts of town. After 33 years in the inner city, I still don't get it!

  3. Wow, I'm more confused than I thought. I thought you lived near a trail near the base of Mt. Sandia?
    I guess I'm kind of a "tweener". I live in an inner suburb, don't want to live out further but like where I'm at too!

  4. Dallas proper is much the same, btw. But venture to places like Plano or (god forbid) Arlington? ALL BETS ARE OFF. I will never live in the suburbs. Anyway--really happy for you. Welcome to the city!!!

  5. The city of Albuquerque stops abruptly at the base of the Sandias due to the far-sighteness of some planners a few years ago that bought up wilderness acerage there for public areas. I live right on the edge of that. It's a small city, so it's not far from the city center to the edge.

  6. while you make the city life sound fun, interesting and convenient, i think i'm still partial to a country living! i'm currently in the 'burbs (of a small 'city' at that) but grew up in the country. it was a pain to go to the food store but i think one day i'll probably end up back out in the country again.


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