Raw, adjective: 2. not having undergone processes of preparing, dressing, finishing, refining, or manufacture

The Times had an article the other day looking at what is essentially urban nomadism. It's a phenomenon most of us in the cities know well; that push and pull of changing rents and changing roommates and changing addresses, the constant hunt for a good neighborhood/landlord/view that maybe, just maybe, might have the bonus of a killer south-facing bay window (*ahem*) or an easy walk to the post office or a conveniently free cable connection.

This is all strange and faraway compared to the suburban nesting many of us grew up with; the buying a house as soon as you can, the gardening and the settling-in and the stability of a constant address that was supposed to signal Adulthood and Responsibility and Having One's Shit Together. Well, we all see now how reliable and steady the housing situation in the current economy has come to be; no longer is that vision of the McMansion in the 'burbs a steadfast investment and the guarantee of a certain amount of financial security.

It's been a long time since I traded the fantasy of a white-bread, cultivated-lawn, cricket-chirping cul de sac existence for the dirt and the grime and the speed and the energy and the edge of living in the city. I wouldn't trade my renting and my crabby landlord and the whores under my window at 5 am for anything; those things are the same inconveniences that also make possible a quick trot to my yoga studio 2 blocks down and the Whole Foods 2 blocks up and the familiar chatter of late-night voices stumbling home from the bars as I doze off to sleep and the wind slips in the open window, and I feel connected to the world in a way that I simply don't in a sealed-up, uber-safe suburban manse. And there's something about being in the arts, something about people like this Brooke Berman playwright in the NYT article, something about committing to the simultaneous romance and pain in the ass reality of the urban nomad's life. We trade access to the arts for a mortgage and housing security; we trade the rush and spin and creative inspiration of city living for the pleasure of having a garden to dig in and flowers to pot; these are trades with both pros and cons, of course, but at the end of the day, in spite of any sorrow over not growing my own tomatoes or being able to fall into the buzzing meditation of mowing the lawn, I wouldn't trade the perks of walking up the street with an armful of hydrangeas and fresh bread from the market down the block for any of that bourgeois house-owning comfort.

Read the article; it's an interesting look at the highs and lows of city life for the aspiring artist.

Moving Soon To An Apartment Near You (NYT)


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