Tuesday, May 27, 2008

East Rock

East Rock

Our apartment here may have its downsides, but it has been a pleasure to get to know our new neighborhood and explore it. The house we owned was actually in Hamden, the town/suburb just north of New Haven, which was lovely in its own way, with its green spaces and lovely streets and 1920s’ era houses. Now we are down in New Haven proper, in a neighborhood just off the Yale campus filled with close-spaced Victorian homes that have been divided into apartments to be inhabited by grad students and postdocs. Going for walks around here has been a delight, especially as spring has advanced and we have balmy, 70-degree afternoons. We can walk to East Rock Park (from which the neighborhood gets its name) and Nica’s (which has seen a LOT of our business due to our not-very-functional kitchen), or just walk up and down the lovely streets. Our particular street is mostly 1850s’ houses, which are pretty plain and not much to speak of, to my profoundly uneducated eye, but things apparently took a turn for the Victorian when it came to build up the blocks around us. The houses are so beautiful and lots of trees are blooming; it’s a lovely time to be outside in this neighborhood. As I walk around, I am always curious about the histories of these houses. I think old houses are especially compelling to me because I grew up somewhere where very little was older than about the 1960s. I always wish I could know when they were divided up into apartments, what kind of people lived in them through the decades, and what their lives were like.

This neighborhood is also super fun because the Yalies tend to be an international group. When I take Grace to the playground, I always get to see and talk to moms from all over the world. Languages I have heard called after little ones going down the slide or digging in the sandbox include French, Russian, Hindi, Korean, Chinese, Hebrew, what I am guessing was Farsi, and a few I couldn’t identify. In the late afternoon there is sometimes a team of miniscule soccer players practicing and their coach is a grad-student-aged Scottish guy. It warms the cockles of my heart to hear his brogue drifting across the practice field as he shouts encouragement to the tiny soccer players. I should shut up already about the annoyances of this apartment or Rob won’t believe me that I really would like to live overseas at some point.

We were recently talking about New Haven and how if you’re going to move super far away from everyone and everything you know, this is a nice-sized city for it. It’s a metro area of about 850,000 (half the population of the Austin area, for our Texas readers) and is small enough to be easy to find your way around, to feel like you have a handle on what is what, etc. It felt comfortable and not overwhelming to me quite quickly, despite having such a different vibe from anywhere I’ve lived before. And I still chuckle at how often I run into people I know at the farmers’ market, the library, and Trader Joe’s. I wonder how I would like living in an actual small town... Not something I am likely to find out anytime soon, as we move back to the 4th biggest metropolitan area in the U.S. Six million people-- sheesh!

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