On Saturday I went to a party where I met a woman who once lived near where I now live in Kreuzberg. But then she had kids. She hated taking them to the playgrounds around here, some of then with tough kids and broken glass. When they were a few years old she moved with them and her husband to the very suburban area of Lichterfelde West on the outskirts of the city. Finally they could play all day in their own garden and ride their bicycles to school. Her children were happier.
I can understand where she's coming from and, in a way, she's probably right. The only wild nature my daughters see are the flowers that force themselves through cracks in the asphalt. But I would feel out of place living such a life. What kind of mother could I be to my children if I were miserable?
When I was a child growing up in suburban Tucson, complete with house and cactus-filled garden, I used to wonder what it would be like to live in New York City. My parents called me their California sunshine, because I was blonde and always cheerful, and my sister the New York sophisticate because, so they claimed, she had come out of the womb already instantly 21, always knowing exactly what it was she wanted. I liked being placed in California, where we later lived, but secretly I pined for New York. I imagined what it would be like to walk up several flights of stairs to my apartment. For some reason, I was sure all the children their always wore Converse.
Now my children are getting the big city upbringing that I always longed for. Does that mean they will long for a house near the woods? Will they pack up and move to the country or suburbs the first chance they get? Only time will tell.