Precisely What is it Like to Live in the City?


This is the burning question that confronted Urban Woman and myself three years ago this month. We wondered if our cars would be safe, if our home would be safe and it we, in fact, would be safe. Parking and groceries could not be found in the city we were warned. Homeless people would overrun us at every turn. I looked in vain for information about life specifically in our little city. I couldn’t find it and ultimately we took a leap of faith. We’ve never regretted it for a moment.

The genesis of this blog grew out of this lack of information. I decided if no one else would document daily life in the city, I would answer the call, and so I did. Recently I’ve reflected on the topics I’ve covered in over six hundred posts and I’ve realized that while the range of topics is massive, there are certain major elements of living in the city that I’ve never discussed. How is this possible?


It’s possible because there is no one version of living in the city. The same relatively small geographic area yields entirely different experiences to the people who find themselves here. How much money do you have? Are you homeless? Are you rich, middle class, struggling or very comfortable financially? Are you gay or straight, conservative or liberal, out-going or introverted? Are you college-age, late twenties, thirties, middle-aged or older? Are you Caucasian or any other shade? Educated or not, from an educated family or not so much? Are you from this region or from another country?

Each and everyone of these factors could easily change how any one person experiences the city. Money likely weighs most heavily. If a person is barely hanging on financially, the city can be a very difficult place. Background also influences which experiences in the city appeal to us or how adventurous a person might be. Extroverts instantly have many friends and acquaintances in the city while an introvert might easily be lonely in the middle of the crowds.


While I try to write about a wide range of experiences for children, young adults and older adults, I have the same limitation any person living in the city would have: I can tell you what I do, but there are likely entire worlds of people in the city who would describe a very different life. I’m white, male, married and have a solid, but not spectacular income. I’m very educated, but from a blue-collar, southern family. I love music and literature, I’m pretty adventurous and this blog has forced me out of my natural tendency toward introversion. But what is missing?

Probably more is missing than I can even list, but a few things come to mind or become immediately obvious. I recently met Alan Sherrod for a cup of coffee and listened to him passionately discuss Knoxville’s classical music scene. I’ve hardly mentioned the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra or the Knoxville Opera, let alone UT’s contribution to the genre. Alan has an excellent article in Metropulse on the classical music scene in Knoxville which, as it turns out, is alive and thriving. These great organizations persevered through hard times and continue to offer high-quality performances to an apparently growing audience.


So, why haven’t I discussed more of this great music? It’s not so much in my background, so I’m pretty ignorant of classical music. Also, it’s not cheap, and while I’m certainly not poor, I can’t justify some  of the more expensive offerings in the city on a regular basis. I’m open to reviewing and promoting both of these great organizations, but I haven’t made the commitment to try something different in this arena and to spend the money. I’d welcome guest columnists on the topic of classical music in the city, but I’ll try to include them.

Equally out of my comfort zone or background is hockey and roller derby. Both draw enthusiastic crowds within a comfortable walk of my home, yet I’ve never been. Again, it’s probably somehow due to my background and educational level that these sports haven’t appealed to me. For someone else living in the city, they could be a highlight when the season is in. As with the other topics, I’d welcome guest columnists on these topics.

So, there you have it: Living in the city is what you make it given the restraints or freedoms of your situation and background. I’ll continue telling my version of it and including as much diversity as I can find to discuss, but I may well miss things that you consider critical while sometimes emphasizing things in which you are less interested or which you feel I’ve overdone along the way. I only have one set of experiences and thoughts to discuss.

So what else am I missing? Do you know other topics or events I should cover? Tell me. Email me at or leave a comment. I really do try to pay attention to any contact or suggestions. I’d love to hear from you.