For almost twenty years we lived in a major metropolitan area. It was a joy and a pain. A good part of the pain was financial, we never really made enough to really enjoy city life. We ended up paying way, way, way too much for housing, had debts we couldn’t keep up with. Balance that with some great friends, some incredible experiences, and you can understand my bittersweet memories of city life.
But there are some things I truly miss. All those little neighborhoods with great restaurants, coffee shops where you could kill a Saturday morning, movie theaters everywhere, shopping was so much more varied and easier. I miss the convenience, the variety, funky bookstores, the microbrew bars that never let Coors, Miller, or Bud near their tap lines.
Oh, there’s malls and restaurants out here on the prairie but it’s all very much chains. Minot & Bismarck have a few places that bring the funk, more may be coming. Every struggling restaurant and retail chain are now staggering to western North Dakota like it’s the Promised Land. Downtown Bismarck has a few bars and places to eat that actually have that city vibe. It will have to do.
I do still have this urban urge. We’re getting to the point where the travel itch is getting persistent and harder to ignore. There’s a lot of cities and places we’ve never been that are feeling tempting. Seattle, Portland, Boston, Colorado, Maine, Vancouver, Chicago… I want to walk down a sidewalk I’ve never seen before, to stop into a strange bookstore, to see the lights glimmer against glass and pavement.
Our feline population is declining and in all likelihood in a couple years we’ll be minus a couple cats. At that point I think another dog will be in order. That’s going to tie us down. We need to wander until then. Wander and quench the itch.