“How are you enjoying your new place?” seems to be the question replacing the frequently asked “Why?” question I wrote about a while ago. To be honest…I am not sure how I should answer that question. To be even more honest, it was really hard coming back from a week’s holiday with family to our “new home” in the city. But not for the reasons you may think.
Not because our place is small.
Not because we don’t have (space for) a washing machine and I had a BIG bag of washing to do after the holiday.
Not because of the noise or the busyness.
Not because I wasn’t sure my car would still be there and not have been stolen while we were away.
Not because of any of the reasons you may think.
In fact our place is actually really great. It really is not such a “dodgy” area. It really isn’t that unsafe. It certainly isn’t “upmarket”, but it still way more than we need. It is simple in our eyes, but may very well be luxurious in the eyes of many of our neighbours. And the city has surprised us in so many ways (we hope to do a post soon on all the things we love about living in the city). The noise doesn’t bother us anymore. And despite the narcoleptic security guard, my car was still there after the holidays.
But it is exactly in these things I am struggling: We have the choice of driving a car. We can move into a bigger place and to a different neighbourhood at any time. We have money in our bank accounts. And credit cards. And we fly to family in a different city for Easter holidays. And here we have been moved into an environment where those around us (mostly) do not have these choices – don’t have these privileges. Where we used to live, I could “safely” drive to a shop, park in the covered parking, do my grocery shopping, drive back in my car, get home and greet my neighbour who also just did their shopping at the same store and never be confronted with the reality of the privileged position I find myself in. In the city, my experience is different.
I walked over to PicknPay the other morning. I was so shocked at the prices of certain items that I left disgruntled not having purchased a few of the items I wanted…and feeling oh so very sorry for myself. The entrance to our apartment is also the entrance to St. Paul’s daily soup kitchen. So as I was approaching home, many people were sitting and standing around gratefully devouring their soup and brown bread ration for the day. In honesty, I will put it out there: I really had a hard time looking the people who were being fed in the eye to greet them as I walked past with my bag filled with groceries.
Every day I am confronted with the reality of my privilege. Every day it stares me in the face and asks of me how I am going to respond today. Living in the CBD disallows the options of denying or being blissfully ignorant of my privilege. And that is what makes living in the CBD really hard for me at this time. So is there joy in living in the CBD? Most certainly! But am I enjoying it? I am still not sure how to answer that question.