I’m not sure when I became a urban-lover, but somewhere in my adolescence, I was convinced that I was going to spend my adulthood in the “big city.” I think it’s a natural side effect, for many of us, of growing up in a suburban area, where the city skyline is just over the horizon, beckoning you with it’s glittery lights, constant movement and promise of a fast-paced, exciting life. Beyond its glamorous facade, however, even the everyday realities of city life have always appealed to me. I can remember watching sitcoms like Friends and Seinfeld and being jealous, more than anything, of the characters’ abilities to simply head out their door and be instantly transported to the neighborhood coffee shop or the grocery. Convenience and accessibility have always been the biggest factors for my yearning for city life, and continue to play a large role in my choice in locale.
My first home out of college, a studio apartment in Chicago, was in arguably one of the most walkable locations you can imagine. I was in the middle of the (sometimes revered, sometimes reviled) Lincoln Park neighborhood. I cannot even count the number of attractions within a 3 block radius of my door, including several bookstores, at least 4 sushi restaurants, dozens of bars, a free zoo, the beach, clothing boutiques, a decent number of bus lines, and even a grocery within my very building. And thus, my obsession with urban convenience began.
I’ve had my fair share of living quarters since that first, well-placed-but-overpriced studio, all with varying degrees of urban-ness. Our Boulder apartment was probably the least walkable, situated at the top of a steep hill, but with a lovely park, grocery, and brewery at the bottom of the neighborhood. We were close to bike paths and within a stone’s throw of hiking trails, but retrieving a gallon of milk took either a half-hour walk or [more commonly] the use of a vehicle. The views, however, were so gorgeous and distinctly “Colorado” that we stayed there for a good three years before succumbing to the fact that we were spending a lot of time traveling to the big city to the south.
Our move to Denver brought us closer to my work, and also, all of the attractions that the city provides. Although we miss living in Boulder — with both its beauty and its quirks — and may return again someday when we are able to justify living in a more central location of this endearing town, Denver has provided us with the convenience and accessibility that we both crave.
In the past week, we have been able to make spontaneous plans with friends, ride our bikes to a neighborhood brewery, see an off-Broadway show, walk the dog to get a Sunday evening frozen yogurt, and bring home groceries in the ‘ole bike basket.
On the other side of the coin, however, and possibly one of the things that makes living in Denver so ideal, is the fact that we still have the ability to get away from the city and all of its “reality” very quickly. We’re able to completely escape into a disconnected splendor in less than an hour’s drive, and can go as deep or as shallow into the Rocky Mountains as we may desire.
This past weekend, for example, I finally got to participate in the “car camping” that I had so narrowly missed a couple weeks before, and ventured into a land where cell phones no longer had service, and our walks included those to a refreshing creek or a lake for fishing, instead of museums and city parks. We enjoyed the company of great friends around a roaring campfire, as opposed to a bar table. We slept to the background noise of chirping crickets and mountain breezes instead of the honking horns and sirens that we have all learned to tune out.
I won’t go on record saying that I could never live out in the middle of nowhere, or that I will be a city-girl forever, but for now, I am certainly enjoying the best of both worlds.