City Living

Living in the ‘Hood’?

Recently I created a post called “Music to my Ears” wherein I discussed the sights and sounds we hear living in the city.  The piece explained how we are used to the chorus of sounds we hear each day and have come to find many of the different sounds to be quite therapeutic.  There was also mention of our building’s concrete walls and how they act as very effective sound barriers.  That is why on one evening last week, we were not initially concerned to hear an unfamiliar sound. 

It was later in the evening and we were all busy with an activity.  My husband was putting Little S to bed, and I was talking on the phone.  When we heard the unusual sound we continued with our task at hand.  When our daughter asked what it was that she had just heard, my husband came up with a quick guess.  The bedtime routine is very fragile at best and I am sure all parents can appreciate that any extra distractions can be disastrous.  He offered the explanation that it was nothing more than a loud car.  This answer seemed to satisfy her and our evening continued, uneventfully.

The next day while catching up on the latest news, I became aware of what took place the prior evening.  The sound we heard was actually three gunshots.  I learned that, thankfully, no one was injured but I did feel a little rattled to find out that what we had heard that night was something so serious and so close to home.  The locale of the incident was not very far from us and it would not have been unusual for my husband to be in that area at that time grabbing something from one of the stores.  This caused me to reflect a little.

My first reaction was something along the lines of an assumption that because we had moved to the city we were inadvertently exposing ourselves to more crime.  I think this is a general assumption of the masses; city = crime.  With this comes the usual worry every parent has when it comes to their children.  Is my child safe?  Is this a safe place for my child to grow up, etc.?

I didn’t take me long during this tornado of thoughts to remember that when we lived in our quiet little suburb, there was a grow-op bust a mere ten doors down from us.  Police tape, news cameras, the whole nine yards.  And that was in a nice, middle-class neighbourhood.  My three stolen cars came to mind as well from back in the day when I lived in the North-West part of London.  I was left with the knowledge that unfortunately, it doesn’t matter where you choose to live; crime finds its way into the richest of rich neighbourhoods, the poorest of the poor and the nicest of nice places to live.  This is a reality in our world and always has been.

Statistically speaking, Ontario actually has the lowest overall crime rate of all the provinces in Canada.  And crime overall in Canada fell roughly 5% in the last few years.  I am no statistics wiz and I’ll admit that I really don’t know much about this topic, but I do know that the more people who live in a given place, the higher the volume of crime there will be.  This just makes sense.  This is why we would see a higher incidence of crime in a city like Toronto than we would here in London.  How do stats like this affect the decisions of families on where to set up shop, where to make a home?  Are there parts of London (or your respective city) that you would choose not to live?  And how knowledgeable are we?  Have we done the research or are we making decisions based on assumptions and generalizations?

I leave you with this question:  what type of neighbour-’hood’ do you live in?  Has the presence or probability of crime affected your decision on where to live?  Why have you chosen to live where you live?

I am left with the feeling summarized above.  We can’t hide from crime but we can do our best to make smart decisions and teach little S to make intelligent choices.  There is nothing that says we are safer in any particular neighbourhood than another.  So for now my ‘hood’ will remain my happy place!

Crazy and the City

One of the benefits of downtown living is the ability to walk most anywhere.  Our movie store, supermarket,  coffee shop, parks, splash pads, work and school are all within a short stroll for us.  Another benefit of city living is the anonymity that comes with it.  Anonymity is something I appreciate very much.  I love being a nobody among other nobody’s.  I love the freedom that comes with not caring what others think and not knowing what they think  You’re really just another person out and about with other strangers. 

 As much as I love this new-found freedom; I have also found a few humorous downfalls…

 I try not to be a two-season complainer, however walking to work in the Summer isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.  I arrive at work with tiny beads of perspiration on my forehead and sweat dripping down my back. (London has had a really hot and humid summer so far.)  I think this could come across as attractive in some settings.  For example, if you’re out for a jog throughout the city and you run past a cute guy while sporting rosy cheeks and a cute tank-top/short-shorts ensemble.  That can be respectable and sexy on some level.  It is not appealing at 8am in the elevator at work dressed in business attire.  That’s downfall number one.

Downfall number two, perhaps the more comical one, is that I suspect that I may be viewed as that crazy downtown lady.  Our family schedule is set up so that my husband drops our daughter off at school in the morning and I pick her up in the afternoon.  I rush home from work, run upstairs (again, more sweat) change out of my work clothes, grab the stroller and head back out just in time to pick her up.  Of course my trip to gets some looks.  I walk with a vacant stroller and could appear to be one of those ‘phantom child’ women.  One who doesn’t have a child but really wishes for one…so much that they now believe they have one. 

I’ve noticed people take a second glance at my childless stroller and I’ve had a little giggle to myself, but that was just at the beginning.  Now, if it happens at all, I don’t even notice.  That is why on this day in particular I was a little surprised to find some construction guys checking me out.  It was a work from home day for me, so admittedly, I didn’t look my best.  Why wash your hair when you’re sitting in your home office all day?  I wasn’t wearing one of those cute outfits mentioned above and I didn’t feel that anything about me stood out as particularly cute, but they kept looking at me and taking second glances.  I started to feel pretty good about myself.  After all, I had just started a Booty Camp class and was already on my second week.  Maybe it wasn’t just me noticing the differences.  Maybe my boot camp training was finally speaking for me.  Naturally my stride picked up a little and maybe I added a confident little wiggle in my hips.  Yes, I am married, but what girl (married or not) does not take it as a compliment when getting checked out? 

 After picking up my daughter and making my way back home (still with the wiggle) the road crew didn’t seem as interested in my presence as they did before.  I didn’t think much of it at the time.  I had already received the attention I really didn’t think I deserved that day and was feeling pretty good.  It wasn’t until later that evening (while admiring myself in the mirror) that it dawned on me…the phantom child phenomenon.  They weren’t checking me out!  They were checking out my phantom baby.  As you  may have guessed, the next day the wiggle was gone and the hop in my step was only there because I was excited to see little S at the end of a long day!

 So, there are two morals to this story…take an extra change of clothes and some deodorant with you on a hot day and refrain from questioning why someone is checking you out…just assume it’s because you look good!

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