Experts who write about Greenwich's "aging" population have not met Victoria Chimblo and Kaitlin Zintak. Victoria and Kaitlin both live downtown, near the "AVE" and recently convinced me that Greenwich is the hottest town around, that Greenwich Avenue is bursting with young adults, and that it offers a tremendous place for young people to live and meet other young people.
Victoria and Kaitlin, both in their 20s, met while taking classes at UConn in Stamford. Since Victoria is in the real estate business (perhaps one of the youngest Realtors in town), she started showing Kaitlin apartments on the Avenue.
Kaitlin had heard people talking about Greenwich, telling her about the fabulous stores and restaurants, but once she discovered Greenwich Avenue, she fell in love with the town and was soon renting an apartment right off the Avenue.
"I walk down the Ave every day," she told me. "There are so many different options. It is very peaceful and relaxing. It is fun to see the same policemen every day and to wave and say thank you."
The one word that kept creeping into the conversation was "happy."
Greenwich Avenue gives one a very "happy feeling," said Victoria, who was raised in Greenwich. She particularly liked the idea that it is like an outside mall on a one-way street, with all ranges of stores for young adults and kids.
"If you want to spend $5,000 on a purse or $20 for a T-shirt, you can," she said, noting the wide variety of stores.
Both of the young women feel a strong sense of community because of Greenwich Avenue. Kaitlin, who has lived in different parts of the country, does not feel at all strange or awkward about going out by herself or eating at a bar.
When I asked both of them if they felt comfortable walking alone into a bar or restaurant, they both answered with a very positive, "yes." They "love" going to Barcelona, Ginger Man, Sundown, MacDuff and Terra -- among others.
People are friendly and bartenders are friendly. Victoria has waited tables and been a hostess at Barcelona, right off the Avenue, and recognizes many classmates from her Greenwich High days.
She stops at Aux Delices every morning and notices that by having a routine, you start recognizing people.
Evidently, routines help develop community. Victoria talked about friends of hers who have lunch every Saturday near the top of the Avenue and then walk down the street with their dog. It is their family day.
One of the things that drew Victoria back here after spending two years at Ohio Wesleyan, was her strong sense of family and now she sees friends coming back to Greenwich after spending time in New York. They miss the grass, she said, they miss the beach, the ferry, the concerts, the Avenue. When I asked her about young men, she said her boyfriend wants to live in New York but then revealed, with a smile, "but at some point he will want to come here."
Although some of us older types may think there are not that many job opportunities here, Victoria thought there were. "There is great wealth here and if you network properly, you can do very well," said Victoria. Kaitlin, however, thinks she might end up working in New York but wants to live here and commute the "37 minutes" by train.
As I left Kaitlin and Victoria, I walked up the Avenue with a new spirit. Rather than bemoaning the loss of the locally owned stores, I began to see the stores and restaurants in a new light. I even walked into Zara's and, surrounded by young shoppers, bought a $40 jacket.
Yes, perhaps the Greenwich does offer everything for the young -- and the not-so-young.
Ann Caron is an author of books on adolescence and a parent-educator. She can be reached via email at email@example.com.