City Life vs. Suburban Life: Good Morning Starshine!

Baltimore Skyline City Life vs. Suburban Life: Good Morning Starshine!Photo Courtesy of: ktylerconk

Name recognition is important, and ever since I moved to Baltimore city I can for the first time recite all the names of my neighbor’s pets and children – this never happened when I lived in the suburbs. This is new!  And should I forget a name here or there I have only to wait for one of my neighbor’s 6AM wake-up calls for a quick refresher.

Baltimore is a world without a need for those stick on name tags!

I grew up in the suburbs of DC and Baltimore, where everyone drove to and from work, parked at their mailboxes to collect the mail, and then drove straight into the garage. Everyone was neat and tidy.  About half the lawns were maintained by various landscape companies, and once the garage door closed behind your neighbor’s tailpipe you wouldn’t see them again until they pulled back out the next morning to commute to work. Occasionally I would wave at them and they would wave at me. Waving was usually friendly, accompanied by a smile and completely silent unless you were within spitting range (which of course you would never actually know how to judge, because all spitting was done down a drain and accompanied by toothpaste).  Every couple of weeks in the suburbs you would bump into a neighbor at the shared driveway with your trashcans on wheels, and need to share small talk. Chat was always pleasant and spoken in soft conversational tones that avoided all mention of religion, politics, or bodily functions.

In the suburbs we would say things to each other like; “Did you hear the horses escape from the farm last night?” or “How about that snow!”  or “The lawn guy’s been cutting the corner recently, and he’s left a tire mark in the lawn. I’ll have to speak to him about that.”

In the city I wake up to the smoky 6am bellows of my neighbor Ms. Kim after her small and ever-leash-free flock of Chihuahua mixes.  “Prissy!  Get back here!”

“Peanut!”

“PEANUT!”

“Come ON!  COME ON!”

“PEANUT,  little F—er.  Scoot! Let’s go!”  Then to her daughter, ”Christina, why the Hell are you outside without your SHOES!  Get your…NO, Get Your Shoes! You go back in that house…! Don’t you F-ing talk back to me!”

Ms. Kim wanders around in the morning with a lit cigarette and a fluffy pink bathrobe with clouds on it. Her daybreak language bounces off the nearby warehouse businesses, and echoes between the townhouses. Her dogs are awarded three short walks a day from her front porch to the sidewalk three houses down, and then the return trip back.

She scared me to death when I first moved in.

She also was the first person banging on my front door the night my adjoining neighbor’s house fire erupted. She was worried sick the flames would spread to my house and harm me or my sister. That that was scary too, no, not so much the fire, but her 11pm wallops on my door.

Her husband was the one who risked his life to run into the neighbors burning kitchen to try and put the fire out before it spread and the fire department could arrive.  He wasn’t successful, but I give him all the credit in the world for trying.

Living in my neighborhood in the city is a 180 degree difference from my life in the wealthy suburbs of DC, but after a while even the jarring differences can grow to be a little charming.  Ms. Kim lets it all hang out, but you always know where you stand.

I’m a morning person. Who really needs to sleep past 6am anyway?


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