I moved into my first apartment when I was 27. I had just graduated with my master’s degree and gotten my first full-time job as a reporter. I was finally a grown-up, albeit a grown-up with high expenses (student loans) and a low salary (I worked for a newspaper). That low salary meant the apartment I could afford wasn’t in the most affluent part of town, but it was spacious and it was cute, with hardwood floors and high ceilings and lots of windows. And my hood wasn’t in “the hood” — that was a few blocks west, with its occasional gunfire and circling police helicopters. A few blocks east, the real estate prices soared, and so did the number of nice cars and golden retrievers.
Still, my neighborhood was nicely eclectic, with renters and homeowners, families, singles, and empty-nesters. Multiple languages could be heard from windows and yards as you passed, and every race seemed represented. Every year during Pride Week, my neighborhood was the hub of the parade. We had three churches, a branch library, an elementary school, and a firehouse (where the firefighters grew their own herbs and were always happy to share their recipe for chicken piccata). We also had an arthouse movie theater, a dozen restaurants (including a KFC, McDonald’s, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell), at least three hipster coffee houses, numerous boutiques, two Pilates and yoga studios, and a pot dispensary (which also offered high colonics).