Although I lived in a semi-rural area for nearly thirty-four years, I never hated the city. I always missed sidewalks, for instance.
Now that I’ve lived in the City of Milwaukee for nearly a year and a half, I have learned some things:
1. The yellow in a street light means “Hurry up.” (And if the car behind me is following closely, I'd better.)
2. It may be quiet in my neighborhood, but I will still hear sirens at night.
3. The train whistle is a sweet background noise (probably because it's at least a mile away).
4. El Rey is a Mexican store with Mexican foods and Mexican music, but non-Mexicans can shop there. (It’s fun to dance a little in the aisles if no one is around.)
5. When you live on the south side of Milwaukee, you become Hispanic by osmosis. I am learning Spanish from signage. My favorite is “Una llamada – es todo,” posted by Milwaukee’s version of “Better Call Saul.”
6. Don’t even think about traveling on Highway 100 during rush hour.
7. There are blue postal boxes on city streets, but they are placed for pedestrians; you can’t sidle up to them to deposit letters from your car.
8. The grocery store, bank, post office, and movie theater seem far away but that’s only because I have to drive through so much traffic and past so many buildings to get there. A three-mile trip gives the illusion of a much longer journey.
9. Every City worker Mike and I have encountered seems to have taken a Nice pill – from City Hall to the DMV to the Post Office to the mail lady walking my neighborhood and the men picking up trash and recyclables.
10. There is litter, litter everywhere – giving us a reason to add variety to our morning walk, stooping to pick it up and crunching that gut.
11. Jackson Park and Jackson Parkway bring an amazing number of birds to our neighborhood.
12. At night, bats flying silently above seem as numerous as the birds of the daytime – and I’m guessing they’re the reason we have few mosquitoes. God bless 'em.