When I first went looking to buy a house, I placed a bid on a place just on the edges of the rather more well-to-do part of town. It was a very nice house, at a very good price. Just after I placed the bid, I suffered massive buyer’s regret. After some reflection, though, I realized it wasn’t just buyer’s regret: it was a very specific realization of the deficiencies of the neighborhood.

Prior to placing that bid, I had only been looking at houses, without truly considering the neighborhood in which those houses were located. A few exceptions occured, like when I looked at a gorgeous house with a huge lot that butted up to active train tracks; but by and large I didn’t consider the area nearly as much as I did the house.

The realization I had about the house I placed my initial bid on was that there were no sidewalks, anywhere. I grew up in a neighborhood that had sidewalks everywhere. I took it for granted through my entire childhood that I could walk – and later bike – darn near anywhere I needed to go, because sidewalks were there. I grew up in walking distance to a grocery store, a barbershop, a bookstore, and a variety of other independent establishments. The house on which I placed my bid was not close to any of these things. Any real access to anything would have required driving on a main street which gets horribly congested for weeks before and after major holidays. It wasn’t until after I placed the bid that I realized any of this.

Thankfully, the bid didn’t work out: the house needed some roof repair that I felt the seller should resolve. The seller felt differently, so my bid was rejected. Shortly after I found the house I later purchased. It’s about a mile and a half south of the house in which I grew up. There are sidewalks everywhere. I’m in easy walking distance to a (different) grocery store, a (different) barbershop, and a variety of other local establishments. I feel comfortable letting my kids walk up and down our street, and home from school.

One of the local establishments is an Irish pub, literally just down the street (four houses away, in fact). It’s my favorite local joint, not just for convenience, but for atmosphere. Tom, the bartender, knows my preferences, and always has a welcoming smile.

I’ve been having a bit of a rough week, this week. Carina had the kids with her, so I took myself to the pub for dinner and a few pints. As I walked in, Tom the bartender was pouring someone else’s order. He looked up, and saw me in the mirror. He smiled warmly, and said, “Bass Ale?” I said please, and the pint was delivered as soon as I sat down. I know it’s a very small thing, this sense of neighborhood, but it’s these small things for which I’m grateful.

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