No doubt about it, Rohnert Parkgets a bad rap from everyone. I’ve certainly been guilty of making my share of jokes about it. Comments such as “what is a “rohnert” and why would I want to have a park full of them?” “I don’t think I could live in a city that doesn’t have a downtown” and “What a bleak place; nothing but acres of big box stores and strip malls.”

While Rohnert Park certainly doesn’t have the charm of historic Petaluma, it does have a lot of what I need: lots of places to buy stuff and plenty of parking when I get there.

We lived in Petalumafor 17 years and I loved it. Steve and I spent countless Sundays strolling in downtown Petaluma. It was a cheap date and we always came home feeling refreshed. How nice it is that my daughter and her friends can walk from the high school to downtown and stop at Bovine Bakery or Fruit in Motion for a snack and then do some shopping at Caravan Imports or Ooh La Loft. Or that she can be dropped off to meet up with her friends for a movie and I don’t need to worry about her safety in the downtown area.

But do I miss the 30 minutes that it took to get from the west side of town to the east side? Or how about circling Petaluma BoulevardandWater Streetlooking for a parking place when I’m meeting someone at Starbucks? And how about buying the basics of life such as hair color and Olay Regenerist? Sure, I could go to CVS but I would pay about 50% more than at Target.

Now that we are living in Cotati, Costco has become our neighbor haunt. We’ve the traded picturesque iron-front buildings of Petalumafor rows of flat-panel TVs. The cappuccino and scone has been replaced with a hot dog and Diet Pepsi in the food court. And we saved about seven bucks in the process.

No more air of superiority from me about where I live; we are solidly in the middle of struggling middle America. And you know what…I like it.