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How I gave up the house but found a life

For 22 years my family and I lived in Westfield, New Jersey, by many measures, the ideal place to raise a family. There are great schools, quiet leafy streets, multiple transportation options, a walkable downtown, and cultural and religious options to fit diverse tastes. Even its names evokes wholesomeness. When I arrived there in 1995, I knew within 30 minutes that it was the wrong place for me. It took us 22 years to undo that decision. I spent years telling myself that it was not so bad but always hating it. This is a story of finding my comfortable place in the world…

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Offbeat suburbanite: "Selling out my generation" and moving to The Burbs

My friends were shocked to hear that we had purchased a home in the suburbs. We didn't seem like the type, the couple to want the white picket fence and the perfectly manicured lawn. Only that's not the type of suburb dwellers that we are. Do I sometimes feel like a sellout to my generation for leaving the city for the suburbs? Hell yes. Do I feel like it was a bad decision? Sometimes…

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Getting mugged made me reconsider the meaning of justice

The concept of justice is a strange one. It suggests not only that there's a righteous order to the universe, but that it's one we can enforce and make right if it ever goes off course. In the case of my mugger, I often wonder whether justice was really served. Not justice for me, but for him.

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When is saving money more important than living in a great place?

I live in the wonderfully offbeat city of Portland, right in the thick of things. I love where I live, like LOVE LOVE where I live. I can walk anywhere I could possibly need or want, and our apartment is adorably vintage. Problem is, I'm about to have to take a major pay-cut. It seems more financially responsible to move, but it's good for our souls to live here. All that to say, when is saving more important than living in a great place?

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Sometimes I take the back alleys

We all know I am an avowed city girl, right? Backstory: grew up in the forest, moved to the city, then moved around to different cities, then settled in the city near my forest. I continue to make all sorts of logistical sacrifices to living my city-center lifestyle, including but not limited to having my son sleep in a walk-in closet and paying way more than I should for a mortgage. I love that I can walk out my front door and immediately be immersed in a flow of hungover hipsters, aging gay professionals, halfway house residents, Microsoft executives, and part-time yoga teachers/body workers/dance instructors/etc. who live in my 'hood.

But even as an avowed city dweller who loves swimming through people-stew every day, I still find myself sometimes taking the back alleys.