Where I Live by Janice Carter

Maybe it's my age (well, probably) but nowadays I frequently find my thoughts drifting backwards, rather than ahead. This usually occurs in the middle of the night when I've trekked down the hall and can't get back to sleep afterwards. That's another burden of age that many of you will not relate to - yet.
    One of my recent insomniac musings centered on this question: how different a person would I be if I'd lived most of my life somewhere else? Excluding family influences, would I have had another kind of life than the one I now have?
    I grew up in a medium-sized city in southern Ontario, Canada. For the first part of my life I lived in a new post-WWII neighborhood and in my teens and university days, in a modern subdivision on the edge of that rapidly expanding city. Ten years after my marriage, my husband and I moved into Canada's largest city - Toronto. I stayed at home with our young family for many years so the house we bought was one we could afford on one salary and in an area of the city we could afford. We decided to live in the city rather than a suburb, because my husband didn't want to spend hours of every day commuting.
    Adjusting to big city life took time and effort. If you want to know a city, you have to navigate through it to become familiar with all its diverse neighborhoods. And large cities have plenty of those.
    The area where I have lived for 40 years - near a lake and a huge park - is close enough to get to the heart of downtown in less than half an hour, by taking one of these: 


- or a bus, subway or automobile. Transit choices were definitely not available where I grew up. I could easily get by without using our family car (only one, because of congested street parking) for days or weeks if I chose to.
 
 A five minute walk to the end of my very long, tree-lined street leads me to:

    a greengrocer on almost every corner



   the public library



   a fancy shoe store, where I don't shop (but my daughters do)



  a toy store where I can indulge my grandchild







  an ice cream store (ditto-  next year)



and a  butcher shop with a penchant for puns



     Living in a  big city has given me the best of both large and smaller communities. There are more museums, art galleries and theaters here than I can possibly visit in a year. At the same time, I can walk to and shop at a varied collection of small, mostly family-run businesses (see above). I chat with the (aging) owners of our laundry/dry cleaning store, whose children now operate it; I can ask about a former student ( now a doctor) whose parents run a fruit and veggie store at the bottom of my street.
    Living in my community-within-a city I've had the opportunity to volunteer at a number of local non-profit groups, learning skills I never acquired in my formal education. At the same time, there are so many restaurants to try out, food emporiums and bookstores to browse - my favorite pastimes.
 
  So how might I have become a different person had I stayed in the suburbs of that mid-sized city?

Perhaps less adventurous. Certainly less aware of the wonderful benefits of living in a colorful, multicultural city. Definitely more tied to my car.

But truthfully, any answer would be pure speculation. We are shaped by where we live in both obvious and unknown ways. Which is why community - any community anywhere - is vital. Perhaps that's why we (I'm including you!) write and read Heartwarming books.

What do you like best about your community?

Thanks for joining today and Happy Thanksgiving!

Janice Carter

Comments

  1. Interesting speculation. I grew up on a farm, but as an adult have lived in medium-sized cities. When I visit a big city with a subway, it always feels somewhat magical that I go down in one place, and pop up somewhere completely different. Lots to see and do, and the people-watching opportunities are fascinating, but it wears me out to rub shoulders with so many people. I suppose that's the difference between being a visitor and part of a community.

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    1. For sure, Beth, and although I like living in a big city, having the chance to stay on a small island for 3-4 months over summer is a good balance!

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  2. Unlike you, I lived in a number of places as a kid and as an adult. I can look back and trace certain things in my life or attitudes to particular places or people. Some of those experience weren't very good; others were excellent. I've mostly lived in small towns and like them. It seems such a waste of time to fight traffic. What I appreciate most is a sense of community and I like your description of a small community inside the larger one. I think we all need it in one form or another.

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    1. We do Callie! It’s a bit of a refuge from the hurly-burly of the inner city. I can see why you opt for smaller towns, having moved around a lot.

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  3. I think I'm a good visitor. I love the idea of being able to walk everywhere--especially to the library and the greengrocer!--and would love to spend a few weeks or even months doing just that. We spent one lovely winter on the beach in Florida. But I've lived in the country all but five years of my life, and those other five were in small towns. I would always need to come back to it sooner rather than later.

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    1. I wouldn’t mind trying country living. The quiet is appealing. We do get a wee taste of that on Garden Island but it’s not the same.

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  4. I'm a city girl. I grew up and lived in large cities where there was plenty to do at any time. Now I live in a small town, but it's still a big city. The town is small, but it's so close to NYC and Philly that they are my metropolitan area. I can go to broadway or the beach in little more than an hour.

    When I moved here only 11,000 people lived in this town, but the free space now has housing developments and condos that have grown like weeds. Over 35K people live here now. The roads are clogged, we have no grocery store and no gas stations. They are only a few miles away in another little town. I think this type of life has given me a different perspective of how it is to live in either a small or large town. I like where I am and I love being able to access big city and small town life.

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    1. That’s an ideal situation Shirley...the best of both worlds. Though I do like not having to drive to stores if I don’t want to. The main thing is, as you say, being happy where we are.

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  5. I've lived in a small town for the last 40 years after having grown up in a large city. I love my small town of 15,000 and also love that the larger city is only an hour away. So I have the best of both worlds. :-) loved the post!

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  6. After growing up in a row. Of four thousand, I lived in Philadelphia PA and now live in a town of about one hundred and fifty thousand. One of my sisters is your "neighbor" in Etobicoke and she loves it.

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    1. The city I grew up in was about 150K too, but a looong time ago! Your sister is almost a neighbor....Etobicoke is pretty and reasonably close to the action of downtown. Say hello for me. :)

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  7. I went to University of Toronto and lived in Toronto for about ten years. I feel like Toronto formed me, too! There is just something about that city that got into my blood. My husband and I moved out to Alberta for work, and there is still a draw for me--like when I saw the streetcar picture on this post! Out here, we're WAY more reliant on the car, and while my son has grown up in this Alberta small town, there is this small part of him that pines for Toronto because we used to visit my parents there. He recently asked me if he could go to school in Toronto when he's in university, and I realized that just because we're HERE, doesn't mean he'll stay here, too!

    Thank you for the post. It brings back pleasant memories for me of Toronto.

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  9. Hi, neighbour! This is such a great part of the city. And since I don’t drive at all, being able to walk or take transit is especially important. Thanks for the reminder of how lucky I am to be part of this community. Maybe we’ll run into each other at the library someday—it’s amazing how small Toronto can feel sometimes!

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  10. You're so lucky to live near Roncy, Janice! Such a great neighbourhood.

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