This was originally published on Livejournal Feb. 25, 2009. Since that journal is locked, but this entry was popular, I am re-posting here.
I had to go to the laundromat tonight, which is always a slightly scarring experience, only because I loathe lugging the cart and bags up and down the block. When I got there, I needed to put money on the laundry card, but was surprised to see the ATM was no longer there. Annoyed, I was prepared to leave my laundry bags there while I got some cash at the ATM down the road, but the manager offered to spot me the wash while I went to get money, as not to waste time. I was pleased and readily agreed.
As I was walking to the Rite Aid to get and break a $20, I was thinking about my neighborhood businesses. More than a year ago, the Star Market that was a five minute walk from our house closed down. There’s a Stop and Shop very close by — maybe a 7-8 minute walk — but the walk is a lot more annoying and indirect. The one benefit to the Star Market closing, however, is that I was encouraged (or forced) to check out the little shops in my neighbohood more closely.
I’ve got the Winter Hill Bakery, which not only bakes delicious rolls and scali bread but also has awesome chocolate croissants and fruit turnovers (apple! PINEapple!). Maria’s Italian Cold Cuts makes a great sandwich and also has coffee in the morning. More than once, when I’ve found myself short the $1.46 for a 12 oz. cup, Mike (the owner, who is *always* there) let me have the coffee on credit. I pay him back a couple days later. (Alexander’s, the convenience store closer to my office, has done the same thing for me.) The Brazilian grocery down the way has fun yogurt and interested baked goods and produce that I have yet to explore, but they look intriguing. There’s also an Indian grocery where I’ve gotten some tasty beverages a couple of times. Add on the best pizza place in Somerville, a post office, about three hair salons, a nail place and of course a liquor store, and I’ve got myself a fine little commercial core, all just a five minute walk from my front door. And have I mentioned my morning walk-to-the-bus-stop friend, the crossing guard?
So, yes, I may live in the non-hip, slightly gritty, not-so-well traveled hinterlands of Somerville, which though just two miles from my friends closer to the hipster core may as well be a million. But when I get my coffee at Maria’s or a pineapple turnover at the bakery — commerce that almost always comes with conversation — I think to myself that I’m pretty glad to be where I am. Davis is swell, but I have to wonder if any store there would let me pay for my coffee the next day. Or spot me a wash while I run down the block to get cash.