By Doug Hanna
After four years of self-imposed exile in the far suburbs I recently moved back to the city. There is nothing better than being out in nature with the blue herons, owls, hawks and flocks of turkeys you call your neighbors, but in time the solitude and beauty of living out in the woods can be offset by long and frustrating commute and the occasional feeling of isolation. Fun fact: In the past four years, I've driven approximately 40,000 miles for my daily commute alone, taking up upwards of 1,500 hours of time or around two months of my life.
It's astonishing how much things have changed in four short years. For one thing, the amount of vehicular traffic in Cambridge and Somerville seems to have doubled, making it seem proportional to the ever growing amount of bikers. It seems that road and sewer improvements are happening everywhere and many streets bring back memories of Tijuana in the '70s. Detours are the rule rather than the exception, and tempers are on the boil. Due to ever increasing real estate prices, commercial and residential construction projects are happening on every corner, which only adds to the congestion. As I am in the business of home improvement and construction, I am not complaining about the bounty of work, just observing the effect it is having on life in the city. On the bright side, excellent restaurants and unique businesses are popping up everywhere, improving the once redundant choices for eating and shopping. It's a great feeling to be able to walk out of your house, take a ten-minute walk and find yourself sitting in a nice restaurant.
While the space I lived in out in the sticks was large, the apartment I've moved into is tiny, yet I feel remarkably content. Maybe I'm experiencing dog psychology: they feel at odds in large open spaces, but calm down when you put them in a crate. I miss the owls that used to keep me up at night, but my new five minute commute outweighs my love of feathered and furry creatures. I may be singing a different tune when there are mountains of dirty, crusty snow piled up on the corners and I have to fight for parking spaces, but overall, I'm very happy to be back.