My wife and I bought a house this past September.  It’s a nice little two-story house in a neighborhood on the southeast side of Grand Rapids.  We didn’t even have the highest offer on the house, but the owners sold it to us because of the nice letter we included which told them about our lives and why we wanted the house.

It’s in a neighborhood that seems to be up-and-coming.  There is a mix of older folks who have lived here for years, young families buying their first houses, and a few rental properties scattered throughout.  Like Grand Rapids, it is predominantly white with a smattering of minorities.  It’s also middle-class and earnestly left-leaning—if the numerous signs proclaiming that science is real, immigrants are welcome, and black lives matter are any indication.

The neighborhood is great because it has a nice little business district right at its heart.  There is a coffee shop which is connected to a pizza parlor.  There is a decent (if overrated) breakfast/brunch restaurant, and across the street is a hipster-y dinner place that recently added a soup counter open during lunch hours.  The neighborhood liquor store, and a local grocery market if you just need a few things and don’t want to make a whole trip to Meijer.  And because it is Grand Rapids, a requisite Christian Reform church, and a new brewery is opening in autumn.

One of our neighbors is a nosy elderly lady named Linda.  I love Linda.  She has never married, lives with a number of cats (one of whom seems to be a real piece of work), and has lived in the neighborhood forever.  She is a treasure trove of information and gossip.  I now know that there are about four other people on the street named Linda, the people two houses down are recluse weirdoes, so-and-so down the street went through a divorce a couple years back, the tree in our yard is a pear tree, Mr. and Mrs. Next Door actually just rent their house and it is owned by Mr. Landlord who have a number of properties that he bought on the cheap during the recession and now either rents or has already flipped for a profit and actually Mr. and Mrs. Next Door are the third family to be in the house within the past seven years…and on and on.

I am also a member of the neighborhood Facebook community page, which is just a fascinating microcosm of the neighborhood as a whole.  There are the posts of people who are new to the neighborhood and are just “so excited to be here!  Really looking forward to being a part of this community!”  Then there are the old timers who complain about the neighborhood going downhill in quality.  There is a very active contingent of people who seem to constantly be in fear for their lives—“just heard sirens?  What’s happening!?” and “Saw a two people going door to door, not sure what they were doing but seemed suspicious” and “saw some youths loitering, should I call the non-emergency line?” and “Was that a firework or a gunshot?!!”  Mixed in are posts asking for advice on home repairs, people selling the usual odds and ends, flyers for lost pets, notifications for events happening around the neighborhood.

There is no broad, central point to this post.  I simply wanted to share a sketch of my neighborhood.  I like it here—a nice house in a nice neighborhood that I share with my lovely wife and cuddly cat.  It is good to have a place called home and to be a part of a community.  It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood, and I think I’ll go for a walk later and enjoy it.

Paul Menn
Paul ('10) lives in Grand Rapids with his wife, Emma ('10), and cat, HandsomeMarcoCat. He loves board games, Babylon 5, and honey-curry chicken. Everything else is negotiable.

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