Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Game Changer

A month ago, I observed a couple milestones with little fanfare.

And yet they're milestones of which I'm quite proud. Both have had a profound impact on my life, and I would say both count as two of the best decisions of my adult life.

June 26 ushered in with it the one year anniversary of my relocation to Over-the-Rhine after spending five years in Oakley.

The day that followed marked my six months of living without a car.

Both choices have brought with them some interesting challenges and learning moments. I've grown as a person with regard to my feelings about diversity (yes, with race, but I've also had significant awakenings about disparity in economics and heightened awareness of the needs in my community), and I've also developed some strength and confidence while walking the mean streets of OtR.

My favorite learning moments involve meeting the people, many of whom are very friendly and welcoming. There may be differences between us, but the fact that we're neighbors seems to be enough to inspire kindness.

Thinking back on the past, If you told me 19 months ago that I'd be living without a car in Over-the-Rhine, I probably would have said you were crazy. Me? A girl who grew up in the 'burbs and a fiend for driving fast with my stick shift?

No way.

The fact of the matter is, both my new neighborhood and my sans-vehicle status have helped me curb some of my materialistic tendencies. Spend a week walking up Walnut and you'll realize pretty quickly there are needs far more pressing than a new designer handbag.

Just like a woman showing up in all her diamonds to volunteer at homeless shelter, I'd feel pretty gauche walking through my neighborhood and flaunting my more secure circumstances.

Stuff is stuff that doesn't matter. People are who matter.

Living in OtR has also introduced me to eclectic creativity (Final Fridays! Second Sunday!), fun social gatherings on rooftops, in parks and around dumpster pools, and crazy good truffle fries.

I've enjoyed opening my home up to a cadre of clever people, and am grateful for the people who have extended return invitations.

If OtR is about one thing, it's community.

And the car thing. Some of you are probably wondering, How can you say that not having a car is completely awesome? Rather than completely repeating my Ignite Cincinnati presentation, let me just tell you that I can credit my great gams to all the walking I've been doing in my 'hood.

And thanks to car-free, I run into many of my wonderful friends or neighbors on a regular basis. You can't do that often when you're behind the wheel of a car.

So next time you find yourself in a bit of a dolldrum, come to my neighborhood and take a walk. Admire the architecture, the friendly and funky demeanor and savor some of our flavor goodness.

You'll soon find out why so many people in Over-the-Rhine are so freaking happy.
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Kate's Random Musings by Kate the Great is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

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