Last year on an early May Saturday I was somewhat surprised to find myself in the middle of a tremendous traffic slowdown not far from my apartment, and then annoyed to find parking on my street to be uncharacteristically difficult (something that is now more frequent, but was never true then). I squeezed into the last available space and took a walk to find out that the Minneapolis Cinqo De Mayo festival is held on a Saturday near May 5 as a street fair that begins two blocks up Lake Street from my apartment (which is located in the middle of what has become an increasingly Hispanic neighborhood in recent years). Last year Lake Street was blocked off well past my corner because of a parade. At that point I felt trapped in my apartment, unable to do my planned errands, since if I left I wouldn't be able to find any parking on my return within many blocks. When I took off for the evening I wasn't certain whether the festivities would end before I returned; loud music from a stage one block away had just started. This all felt generally annoying as it seemed to me that the city should have let the local residents know in advance that there would be this major of a disruption. (You might ask why my landlords hadn't warned me about this, but only if you didn't know my landlords; they've been in the neighborhood well over 15 years and I'm the one who had to remind them of the festival this year, and to fill them in on what day and time it would be held -- "It's Sunday, right?" Um, no.)
But this year I knew what was coming so I scheduled my life around the necessity of being home all day and I checked the festival hours in advance and besides my friends Alice and David were staying with my neighbors Stephen and Scott for the weekend so we had a fine social time even though we didn't feel free to drive off anywhere all day. And I was right that my previous year's annoyance was entirely due to the surprise nature of the disruption. This year I thought it was a blast to live in the middle of the hoopla. We walked down to the festival, and we spent a lot of time on the porch watching all the families go by, which was great fun. I felt as if I were living in the middle of a place with personality and character. It was great to have an excuse not to go anywhere on a Saturday without feeling as if I ought to be accomplishing something, and I knew for certain that the huge crowds and overparked streets would start to go away by mid-evening.
It was, all told, a good thing about living in my neighborhood.