Why Dorchester?

Don't pop the bubbly just yet, but the O'Sheas are this close to owning the condo that we have our heart set on, and although the road to home ownership is less yellow brick and more Lombard Street, we may be closing in just six weeks (!!!). We are stressed, exhausted, nervous, excited and anxious as hell, but if it all goes well and we make this house our home it will be ALL worth it. 

Aside from the house itself, I am really excited for the neighborhood, which is known as Pope's Hill in Dorchester. The Dot and I have had some trials and tribulations over the last six months or so, but I am glad that we have decided to stay and have the opportunity to move into an area that is just nicer enough to make the bad feelings I had go away, but still connected. I am still fully committed to making all of Dorchester as awesome as it deserves to be, but I no longer feel like I am martyring myself or my family by living in the thick of a lot of the not-so-great activity.

Here is a little history of how we came to live in Dorchester.

As with most young people attending college in Boston, I spent my first five years of living in the Allston/Brighton area. It had a Starbucks for me to work at, affordable enough rent, a train that went right to my school and all the bars I needed. As I became more invested in civic engagement I knew that I would need to get the hell out of Allston; the number of renters and students who give NO shits about Boston far outweigh people like me who want to be involved in the goings-on and progress of the city stepping over vomit gets a little old when you get a little old.

Once I became pregnant I knew that I wanted to be somewhere with a more neighborhood feel where people were less transient and more committed to their spaces. I was also deeply committed to raising our child in a diverse area where she would be exposed to different races, cultures, income levels and family make-ups. To me, Dorchester was a no-brainer. In one grocery trip I hear thick Irish brogues and Haitian-creole, I see townies and young professionals, and I love it, and I love even more that this is just the norm for Maddie. It thrills me to think that she will grow up and truly not think about a person's outside but will really take that whole person into consideration; it really is one of my biggest hopes for her as a parent in addition to kindness, empathy and sleeping through the damn night.

I got all of that when we moved into our rental in Dorchester, but I also got the other things that go along with living in Boston's largest neighborhood, such as crime, apathy and the need to defend my news-focused neighborhood. Yes, there is a lot of crime. There is also a lot of surface area in the Dot and there are a lot of socio-economic factors at play. The poorest of the poor and the most ignored youngsters in our city come from Dorchester, Roxbury and Mattapan. My neighbors litter and ride tiny motorbikes at breakneck speed down my street. I get harassed on my walk to the train because I am a woman and a lot of men were not raised knowing the fear that women get when they are spoken to in a sexual way when all they are trying to do is get to the god damn T and go to work. People get shot and killed and no one says anything because "snitches get stitches". It sucks. And it almost pushed me out. I wrote letters to my city councilor to get neighborhood clean up, I attempted to engage my harassers and let them know that I live in the neighborhood too and I don't appreciate the comments, I welcomed the neighborhood kids to play with Maddie's backyard toys and tried to connect with their parents. Then one day shit hit a little too close to home and I wanted out. I was frustrated, exhausted and done. 

I wanted out, so we immediately jumped back into the home-buying arena in order to get the hell out of Dorchester.

Then, a funny thing happened.

All I wanted to look at were places in Dorchester. We got listings for Rosi and Hyde Park and JP but those weren't the ones I wanted to see. I wanted to stay, even if I didn't quite know it yet. When it came to looking at places outside of Dorchester I got sad, and nervous, and guilt-ridden. I was turning my back on the neighborhood that we had hand-picked to start our family and it just didn't feel right. And it turns out that my gut feeling was right on.

I love so much about Dorchester: the Neponset Trail, Pope John Paul Park, the Ice Cream Smith, Dot Ale, the Dorchester Running club, Greenhills Bakery, the proximity to the Cape, the red line (hahahaha, KIDDING!) and oh

Dorchester is not perfect but it is always getting better and I hope that I can be a part of making it the neighborhood that its people deserve it to be. I want to be a part of making it cleaner and safer, to help engage the kids and adults to become more invested in their streets and, most importantly, to keep it diverse and affordable so that it doesn't turn into another gentrified horror story. I am no longer an outsider looking in, but a Dorchester resident who wants the best for my neighborhood so that my family and those to come can experience all the awesome things that the Dot has to offer and never feel the way I did about leaving.

Now please, let us get this house and live happily ever after, the end.

PS. in perfect timing rules, the Dorchester Day Parade was this Sunday and, of course, we were there and I managed to snap a few pictures. 

This COULD be our bedroom window if all goes right!
A little Carnivale on Dot Ave.

The BPD Gaelic Column warming up in our church's yard before the parade.
My little Dot Rat : )


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