I love the diversity in our neighborhood. Surrounding us is an Ecuadorian/Mexican family, a few Hmong families, a couple Somali families, a part-Cherokee family, a few African-American families, and (most recently) a couple other Euro-American families.
I hate that we have to keep everything locked up or it gets stolen or broken, that our yard becomes the neighborhood playground when we're not around and that things get broken or treated carelessly.
I love that we have so many parks nearby. Within a mile and a half in either direction I can bike in the Theodore Wirth Park with its woods, rivers and lakes, the Victory Memorial Parkway (which runs into Theo Wirth), or along the Mississippi River.
I hate that I get woken up in the middle of the night by flashing police lights as they do a drug bust on a neighboring house. Or that I can't fall asleep because of the noise of the neighbors next door.
I love meeting the people around here. Like the man down the block who picks up garbage in the street many mornings to keep the place clean. Or our Ecuadorian neighbor who is always willing to help with an automotive problem.
I hate that we can't have friends in our yard hanging out without the neighbor kids coming over to play with our toys or eat our food. I don't mind that they do that, but I don't like that it happens every time. I hate that my son dislikes they neighbor kids because they ruin his playdate with his best friend that he hasn't seen for a long time.
I love the opportunities around us: museums, concerts, nature centers, libraries, sculpture gardens, athletics, rivers and lakes, etc.
I hate all the broken glass, garbage and other unsavory things in the street and on the sidewalks. I wish I could walk outside barefoot.
I love that I can bike around easily--that there are many bike lanes and trails.
I hate that someday I'll have to explain the "n" word to my kids (and probably quite soon). I hate that it's said so flippantly by the inner city African Americans. I hate all the other language that's used on the street that my kids (and I) have to hear.
I love that many people in the community care. They rally together to make the place better. They stand up to violence. They look out for each other. They try to make the place better.
I hate that there is violence to have to stand up to. And drug abuse, and racism, and theft and too many other things.
I love that we don't have to keep up with the neighbors. There isn't the talk about going to the cabin on the weekend or trips to places my kids probably won't ever see. Many people are content with what they have.
I hate that too many kids in our neighborhood are basically on their own. Their parents have to work all the time so they're not around or they just aren't present. I hate to think what their future will be like without healthy formative influences and boundaries. I wish all kids could experience loving homes.
Anders was telling me the other night as we were having some "cuddle time" before bed that at times he wishes he lived somewhere else and at times he wants to live here forever. And I could honestly say that I feel the same way.
Living in "the hood" is not for everyone. Heck, at times it's not for me. But we felt this is where we were supposed to move to. There are ills in the suburbs as much as in the inner city--they just look different. Wherever we live, we want to leave a positive impact. We want to make the place a little better. Plenty of people do a lot more in that area than we do, but I know that ever little bit matters. Sometimes I wish it were a lot easier. Sometimes I wish I didn't have to deal with it all. Sometimes I long for the wide open spaces of the country. But this is where I am. This is my neighborhood. Love it and hate it. It's where I live.