An article I read this week at CityLab discussed the tendency of the middle class to retain their lifestyle preferences when they move from the suburb to the city. I couldn’t help but see my own choices reflected in the study as I live in a single family home surrounded by apartment buildings and mixed use commercial residential structures. My “home” is nearly identical to many of those other buildings, but I have arranged it as a residence for me and my family.
One interesting element of my “middle class urban lifestyle” has been the creation of a backyard garden. My primary reason for choosing this home, apart from its downtown location, was price. It was similar to townhouses on a much more fashionable street, but the price was somewhere around 1/3 of those on Mattoon Street. Part of the reason for the low cost was that my mid-block home made absolutely no concession for parking. Unlike each of the other buildings on the block, it had not a single dedicated off street space. That meant nothing to me. One shock, however, was that this mid-block location gave my home a sort of backyard. What could be more middle class?
I was much more excited by the open space in the back than I was discouraged by the fact that my motor vehicle would have to fend for itself. I was listening to Andrés Duany this week as he explained that urbanites must get more out their front door because there is nothing out their back door. Not so for me, but one thing I have found very surprising moving forward is that of all the characteristics good and bad of my home, my street, and my neighborhood none seems so incomprehensible to my suburban coworkers as the lack of a dedicated space for my car.
I view my car like I will someday view a cane or a walker if I live long enough to need them: necessary and therefore regrettable. I do need to find space to store my car when not driving it, so much is true, but I cannot think of a thing to which to give lower priority. Here is my car, parked on a side street, on a typical morning, as I prepare to head off for school:
One day I was talking to a coworker who raises chickens and who also likes to talk at length about her garden and its bounty. This began a conversation about my garden and that lead to a discussion of my house and its environs. This earthy-crunchy organic gardener was upbeat and in tune with everything I was saying…until I mentioned the lack of dedicated parking. Her response was absolute; she simply could not live in a place that did not provide her vehicular mechanical appendage with its own priority space. After all the talk of food production, and nature, and beauty she would have found it more acceptable by unimaginable orders of magnitude to do away with this:
Than for this to not be accommodated:
I have no regrets.