We knew that we had chosen a true community from the day we moved in.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve called myself a “Philadelphian.” Yet, until seven years ago, I was a Philadelphia resident for just the few days after I was born in South Philadelphia until my parents took me home to the suburbs. I was often in the city, went to college at Temple University, and since 1983 worked at jobs in Philadelphia, but I never was really a citizen of the city itself.
Then I took a job in Mt. Airy. I had been a commuter from the suburbs for decades, through a number of home and job moves. My wife and I had built a brand new home in Delaware County in 1998, and it was nice, new, suburban, a so-called “dream home.”
The new job opportunity came in 2001. The house was still new, the commute was long but ok, but there were things about Mt. Airy that just seemed, well, attractive. It became clear Mt. Airy was more than a place to work – it was a real community, friendly, vibrant, diverse, accessible. I was wasting time commuting, my wife was finding more reasons to be in the area. The time had come for me – for us – to become 100% “Philadelphian.”
We spent a number of weekends touring Mt. Airy, learning the neighborhoods, looking at and eventually bidding on a number of homes. We ended up being lucky bidders on a home a quick five minute drive or leisurely 20 minute walk to the office. Center City is a 20 minute train ride away – with the train station right across the street.
We knew that we had chosen a true community from the day we moved in. Our next door neighbor and I had the first of frequent conversations across the fence. He happens to be African American, I happen to be white, but that’s not something that matters. Within a day, there was a knock on the door, and we were greeted by neighbors with a cheery hello and plants for our garden. Working outside, fixing up the lawn and house, neighbors on the way to who knows where would pull over and come up to welcome us to Mt. Airy. Neither my wife nor I could remember such a feeling of community. And after seven years, we still feel like this is truly home.