It’s been nearly a year since we moved from Suburbia to the City. When I tell people we live downtown, I get some raised eyebrows, lots of questions and a few encouraging comments. It seems so natural that we moved here. But it wasn’t always that way.
It all started when we sent our kids to The Oaks Academy. Many people couldn’t understand why we would send our boys to this school, 40 minutes away, when we had stellar schools in our backyard. True, many families moved to the suburbs because of the schools, but they still weren’t the Oaks. For reasons I do not fully understand myself, I welled up with tears every time I heard of this school in the crime-ridden, economically depressed neighborhood. The simplest way I can explain enrolling our kids at the Oaks is this: God stirred our hearts with such force that there was no way we could ignore it any longer. We were drawn to its mission of offering a Christ-centered, classical education while promoting reconciliation across societal boundaries.
So, for six years, I drove the 40 minutes one way, for one, then two, then three and finally all four of our boys. And the more we developed relationships with the families at school, the more our hearts were burdened for the urban neighborhoods which we drove through each day. Living in the suburbs made it difficult to cultivate the relationships at school. We started feeling like we were living two lives. The life of the suburbanite, comfortable with our large, manicured yards, deluxe automobiles, upscale shopping centers, million dollar homes and competitive sport leagues, and the life of the urbanite, concerned with homeless men and women wandering the streets, independent store owners, sustainable living, and reconciliation among races and cultures.
I believe one of the first decisions we made towards a physical move came when we switched churches. It was heartbreaking to leave our church home of 11 years. The church felt like family. All four of our boys had been dedicated there. We had participated in several ministries and made lifelong, sacred friendships. However, we felt like it was time to have our kids go to a church where they would be with friends from school. While the church wasn’t as far as school, it was still a commitment to be involved since most of the families in our small group lived nearly 30 minutes away from our suburban home.
Little by little, I became more comfortable with the idea of moving closer to our new community of friends and our usual activities. By now, we were fully committed to the school community and mission, and we yearned for a simpler life. My husband’s Multiple Sclerosis was proving a challenge in the upkeep of a large home and yard. So, together we decided it was time to pursue the idea of moving to the city.
We put our house on the market mid-summer, praying that if God wanted us to move, he would make it clear by selling our house right away. Not an easy task in the market we were experiencing. Within a month, our house sold. Three weeks later, we found our house in the historically protected neighborhood we now call home.
Instead of writing about all the changes, I’ve taken photos to show what I love about living downtown, along with some of the challenges that come with it.
The downtown life has taught us so much in the year we’ve been here. I look forward to discovering more as we make our home here. Whether we are attending the sporting venues nearby, an outdoor festival or a museum, it seems we have only a few minutes drive or walk.
The culture of downtown is a diverse one, making it a vibrant and interesting place to live and play. Here are some more of my favorite places, all within walking or driving distance of my home.
- When we lived in the suburbs, we often had only chain restaurants and coffee shops from which to choose. Living downtown gives us the chance to try many of the independent restaurants and shops within walking distance or a short drive.
- The inside of Tea’s Me, a great place for lunch or to work on my laptop for a couple hours.
- The side porch of our house is one of my favorite places to read or write. It’s also a fun place to share a quick moment with one of my kids before they hop the little railing and join the others for a game of soccer on the side yard.
- This theater is home to Footlite Musicals, which performs several shows throughout the year. It is half a block from our home.
- The courtyard at Harrison Center for the Arts, which is connected to Redeemer Presbyterian Church. HCA houses over 20 artists’ galleries and hosts art shows every first Friday of the month. Each show centers on a theme. The shows are typically family friendly and accessible to everyone. Above, the kids take a break from wandering the gallery and play a pick-up game of football.
The only photo I wish I would have included is one of Mass Ave. This street offers several of my favorite shops, including our neighbor’s stores, Silver in the City, At Home in the City and Nurture. There’s also a Starbucks adjacent to a small park with some fun public art displayed. I’ve spent several dollars and hours with friends at that Starbucks.
I feel blessed and incredibly rich with these experiences and wait in anticipation as God shines light on even more that he has in store for me and my family.