Occasionally still, I’m asked why I don’t live in Harrow anymore. Why I choose the city life, why I choose to live in Windsor when almost all my family lives in my hometown.
The plain fact is: I love it. I love Windsor.
I chose long ago to fall in love with it. To let my life wrap up in everything Windsor has to offer. And the city has paid me back in spades. The things I love about my daily life, the pieces that inspire me, the energy I feel, would not be possible without living in Windsor. There are no shortage of people talking all the terrible things about Windsor, let me tell you about the great parts.
Nearly every weekday morning, I’m up around 5am. I stumble through my dark, quiet semi-detached house on Windsor’s east side which costs me almost nothing and affords me the opportunity to invest my money in myself and my family. My neighbour is not yet up, and I know this because his school bus is still parked in our shared driveway. I like having them so close. They’re good neighbours, we chose this place well. I grab my mat, my bag full of work clothes, and my purse and I’m out the door to make it to my 6am yoga class, 15 minutes away in Walkerville. There’s no one on the roads, the city is still sleepy, and I can predict traffic really well.
I Breathe and think and move for 60 minutes, in a tiny beautiful studio a block from the Detroit River. I dress for work after yoga and take my time choosing a place for coffee. Some mornings it’s Taloola and I sit and check my phone for 20 minutes. Other mornings I trek further away to CraftHeads Brew where the guy remembers that I like black Americanos and asks me to tag them on Instagram. If I’ve got time, it’s Marija’s Place, the breakfast spot around the corner where the woman brings me the paper because she hates that I’m on my phone so early. She also hates coffee, I know this cause we chat. Sometimes I take my coffee to go and sit by the river in my car just taking in the skyline view. It’s stunning, you know. Every single time I’m in love with watching the sunlight glint off the highrises in Detroit. I stare, I take another of the same picture I have at least 30 times on my camera roll and don’t regret it for a second. It’s gorgeous, I love that city so much, it inspires me and I’m reminded sitting there every time how lucky I am to grow up here.
I drive to work, where lucky doesn’t even begin to describe how I feel about my job. I’m an alumnus of University of Windsor, and now a very proud employee. I work on a small team, we make big changes. I rarely feel small here, my team is fun and inspiring and smart. Driving home there’s more traffic, but I’m skilled now, I know where to avoid the messes and how many left turns I’ll need to make, and how long it’ll take me to get home, even if I hit traffic on the expressway. The drive home takes 23 minutes. It’s not a stressful 23 minutes, it’s perfectly fine. Sure it’s obnoxious in the summer when there’s construction across every east-west outlet in the city. I grumble about it as I sit in my air conditioned vehicle listening to my latest awesome playlist. It’s not nearly as bad as I want to make it out to be.
My girls get off the bus from their schools- yeah, multiple ones. We got stuck in a district shuffle that split the girls up when the little one started school. I met with everyone I felt I needed to trying to fix it, and in the end just accepted the reality. And the reality is actually completely fine. It’s probably annoying to some, but we don’t even notice anymore. I wait approximately 16 minutes for 2 school buses and it doesn’t bother me. If I decide not to make dinner, I can take the girls almost anywhere to eat within a 5 minute drive. On the weekends, gymnastics is 5 minutes away, and drawing class is 3 minutes from there. Ryan’s commute is about the same.
Everything I want to do is right here. The city is filled with art and food and coffee and beer and events and shops and bakeries and markets and if none of that satisfies you, two border crossings that bring you to an entire other country filled with everything you could possibly want. Our hop, skip and jump proximity to Downtown Detroit is one of my top three reasons I love Windsor. That place, you guys, it’s incredible. Have you ever walked around Campus Martius Park, right downtown? You must. If you have a heart for inspiration, you can’t help but feel it sitting there. Ask a local where their favourite hangout is and you’ll get a different answer every time. Try them all. (I’d tell you mine but it’s way too cool and already too crowded so back off.) Take a tour of downtown and you’ll be amazed at all the connections that city you barely care about has to the rest of the world.
So yes, parking in downtown Windsor sucks. So yes, there’s not a whole hell of a lot open past 9pm. So yes, there are parts of the city that seem sketchy and unfriendly. So yes, there’s traffic and people seem in a rush. So yes, it can seem like no one knows you and you’re so detached from everything. You can change all that. Show up. Try it anyway. Make a point to already know all the crappy things about what might happen, and push those aside to look for the great stuff you don’t know anything about yet. Hit up the downtown market on a summer weekend (you’ll see some friendly county faces, I bet!). Then stay. Pay 4 damn dollars to park at the river. Grab a snack and take a walk. Window shop the stores downtown, make a list of the cool places you want to eat at, zig zag the city streets back down to the river front and sit, for a minute, and take in the view you’ve probably taken for granted your whole life. Understand that Windsor has its flaws, like everywhere else. And understand that expressing excitement and positivity about Windsor can actually make you like it more. That trying to see the inspiring parts of the city isn’t betraying the roots you’ve laid anywhere else. Know that it’s cool to love Windsor too, and that you’re not alone in that. I love Windsor. I love living here- because I really live here. I take the city in, I love it and that alone opens up so many opportunities for me to love it more. There’s community in a big city too, and I know it’s true because I’m part of it.
This is definitely self-promotion: I write about Windsor. I’m pretty good at it.