Some of my longer-term readers might recall that a few years back I wrote a post about life in the Deep Ellum area, mostly full of cool things I’d discovered while living in a downtown environment. But like all things in life, my time down here is coming to an end. In fact, April will be the final time I do the monthly Wine Walk as a Deep Ellum resident. As my eyes fall upon the quiet suburbs where I’ll be moving to, it’s tempting to glamorize my years living here, to let my mind remember them as nothing but fun and non-stop partys. However, the truth is there are many things about this sort of lifestyle I very much won’t miss, and I think recording them now will be a useful tool in keeping Future-Drew from donning rose-colored glasses. If we’re lucky, it might even help a few of you deciding between downtown and suburban living which one is right for you. So, here are the things I will not miss dwelling in the heart of a downtown community:
All of the Poop
I can’t say if this is a Dallas thing, a Deep Ellum thing, or a people who live in my general building/neighborhood thing, but there is more poop around here than there should be. Granted, any public poop is too much, however I would look past the occasional dog turd in the grass. Assholes are everywhere, and I don’t imagine I’ll avoid that in the suburbs. But we’re not talking about a few lone bad pet owners. There’s too much poop for that. In the grass, on the sidewalks, in the bushes, and occasionally in the halls. While most of it is animal, as you’d expect, there’s an occasional dump pile that is either from a huge dog or a human, and given the number of drunks who wander around after bar-closing time human is the more likely option.
Now I’m not trying to run my old neighborhood down the road and make you think the streets are lined with manure. You can walk through the whole area as a tourist without noticing any poop. When you live here, on the other hand, and you have to go off the main foot traffic areas, you know you’re risking running into rogue turds. I’d say at least once every two days I encounter some form of poop, and that is way too often. Something I’m very much hoping not to see as much in suburbia.
Having No Damn Stores
People in your mid-early twenties, think fast: What’s the first thing you look at when choosing a neighborhood to live in? Some of you probably said safety/niceness, not wanting to live in a place with lots of stabbings, and I’ll bet a few of you (my people) said how close it was to the nearest bar. I would wager that virtually none of you said “Close to a grocery store” as your answer, because who bothers to think about that? I sure didn’t right up until I had to start fighting traffic every time I needed so much as a damn tomato. As cool as Deep Ellum is, the closest thing we have to a store is a 7-11 down the street. And while that thing has saved me numerous times, it’s not a substitute for a real grocery store. The closest of which isn’t too far away on a map, but requires fighting highway traffic to reach, making it a 20-30 minute process just to get there, add another 20-30 to get back.
The grocery store is just one example; there are a multitude of things I’m not close enough to reach easily. Electronics stores, office supplies, really anything that isn’t food or booze, and Dallas doesn’t help by spreading shit out so much. Running errands for me takes hours, and very little of that time is spent actually in stores. I know it seems like having endless bars in walking distance is the beginning and end to what you need nearby, but trust me that sooner or later making a pilgrimage for the basest of dinner ingredients will wear on your nerves.
The Lack of Space
I’ve mentioned this before, many times in fact, but I come from a pretty small town. As in, the Walmart was all we had open past 9 p.m. small. Which means a lot of the fun we had came from doing shit outside. Parties in open fields, setting up cheap inflatable pools in the summer, jumping off buildings and other dumb kid shit. Although I don’t really look back on my small town with much fondness, over the years I have started to miss having space. Not that I’ll have a lot when I move, but some, which is enough to at least host people outside when I have a party, or play beer pong somewhere other than the kitchen, the lone spot in my current place with enough space to run a game. From the crampedness of the apartment itself to the actual lack of ability to go outside (other than my comically tiny balcony) everything about a place like this starts to feel cramped over time. Full disclosure, I’ve talked to other people and this doesn’t bother them as much as it seems to bug me. Hard as I’ve tried to run away from it for so long, part of me is still that small-town kid, and I think that means there will always be a peace of me that yearns for ample space.
Credit to Deep Ellum, in spite of all these issues and many more, I’m going to miss this neighborhood. It was a weird, shifting, uncertain place, but I made a ton of memories here, some blurrier than others, and I know once I’m actually away I’ll miss it deeply. That’s the nature of adventure though, to explore something new you must leave the familiar behind, and I hope to find that suburbia will be an adventure of its own.
Except for mowing my lawn. Calling it right now, I already hate that shit and I haven’t even had to do it yet.