March #SOLC Day 13
Moving into a very large condo building in the city (of Chicago) 9 years ago seemed a daunting task. I wondered how things would work once I became a city dweller. I pondered… how do people get groceries – does the city have regular grocery stores? How do people come and go in their cars with all that traffic? How do they relate to their neighbors – do they even know who they are?
I quickly found answers to my questions. Through trial and error I found my favorite grocery store. It was true – the city actually had them. But they are definitely different from the suburbs. The aisles are narrow and the parking lots are chaotic. Some have indoor garages attached, others have outdoor lots that are patrolled by security. It’s bizarre.
Because I live nice and close to the expressway it’s pretty easy for me to come and go in my car. I’ve learned to be a pretty great city driver. The one thing I worry about the most is the very real possibility of hitting a pedestrian one day. They are everywhere! They cross the street willy nilly with no regard to cars in the area. It is 100% the responsibility of the driver to avoid the walker. That’s just how it is.
City neighbors are very different from suburban neighbors. When I lived in the suburbs I knew the handful of people who lived in my immediate vicinity. Most summer nights my next door neighbors could be found sitting outside on their porch sharing a little swing made for two. As I pulled in my driveway from work we would chat about the baseball game they were listening to on the radio, the weather and maybe a little bit about our day. Then, we’d say our good nights and off I went into my townhome. City neighbors, on the other hand, are many. I live in a building of approximately 500 people. I have 500 neighbors. Interestingly enough, as in the suburbs, I still only see the same handful of people most days. We meet up in the elevator either coming or going. We say “hello” in the lobby as we’re getting our mail. We see our neighbors who live on our same floor probably most often.
Our next door neighbors, Robert and Christine, are probably the two people we see most often in the whole building. They have a dog, so that means they are constantly taking little Otto out for a walk. Robert is one of the friendliest guys you’d ever want to meet, but he is also a self-proclaimed hermit. When our Association had their annual Christmas party Christine stumbled upon the lobby festivities as she was coming home from the hair dresser. We had her call Robert on her cell phone to come down for a drink and he absolutely refused. That’s Robert. But yet, somehow Robert knows every single thing that goes on in our building. From who moved in down the hall and where they’re from to why the office manager was fired and the name of her replacement -Robert knows.
Because there are so many more people living within my one city block there are more cars and people than there is space. Robert and I and the rest of our 500 neighbors are about to experience a difficult spring. Our condo association is beginning a project on April 1st that will require all cars to vacate the garage so that the floor can be resurfaced. For two whole months. We are very nervous about where we will park during that time. Street parking is extremely limited and the garages in the area are already filled to capacity. Robert, our trusty neighbor, is currently working on securing a parking plan for the both of them….and for us. It feels so good to know that even in the city we have neighbors who will get to know you so well that they will go to bat for you. Of course, we are still looking for alternate parking on our own, but we are very lucky that Robert is also looking out for us. Because, as he said to us this morning, that’s what neighbors do for each other, even in the big city!