4.08.2013

[little boxes]

Y'all life in the suburbs is...strange.

I grew up in the 'burbs.

When we were living in Houston, our house straddled the line between suburban and rural. Our neighbors had acres and kept sheep. We sat on an acre. We rode our bikes to feed the longhorn steer and shetland ponies in the unsold farmland that was to become another suburban neighborhood. No really--several plots hadn't sold so they just left the animals there until they did.


Then in Atlanta we moved to suburbia in earnest. Where we live now is exactly what you picture in your head when you think of the suburbs.

For college I decided against a city school and opted instead to spend my university years in Waco, Texas attending Baylor University. Waco's not really that big. Baylor's there but there isn't a ton more to it than that. There are areas that sprawl outside of Waco where the professors and their families live but Waco proper is easy to miss.

My second to last semester of college was spent in Rome, Italy. I was so nervous; I'd never spent more than a few days in a city and I was moving for half the year to a major bustling city. Florence would have been more my speed (or so I thought) but I opted to challenge myself instead.


And it paid off. I fell in love with city living.  There's always something happening. You walk places. It's not homogenous in any sense of the word. So for law school I made a firm decision: wherever I went to school, it would be a city school. No college towns allowed. I wound up in Baltimore and stayed there for an additional six months after graduation.

Now I'm back in the Atlanta suburbs and I seem to have forgotten how suburban life works.

On the serious side, I miss walking from place to place. I hate that when I need to get potatoes for a pot roast I have to get in the car. What seemed so much more convenient to me in the past is now a massive nuisance. I feel so disconnected from where I live when I have to drive everywhere. Here there are HOA's and swim teams and lawn services. There are soccer moms in SUV's and minivans. There are drive-throughs and chain restaurants after chain restaurants. Seriously, what is that about?? If you want food delivered, your choices are Chinese and pizza. That's it.

On the less serious side, holy cow are the streets confusing here. In Baltimore, things were fairly logically laid out so if I wanted to try a new route I didn't have to worry about getting lost.

For my first few runs at home I followed the same route: go out of the neighborhood, turn right, pass the middle school, pass several subdivisions, turn around, come home. Wednesday I decided to get a little fancy and try something new. I set out and turned left out of the neighborhood instead of right. I thought I was following Mom's 3 mile walking route backwards. My run was going to be 2.5 miles (I've been doing Couch to 5K) so I thought I'd just walk the last half mile home, no biggie.


That didn't happen. When I finished my run I realized I had absolutely no idea where I was. A quick check of Google Maps told me that my worst fears had been realized: the only way home was to walk an additional 2 miles. I'm still not entirely sure what I did wrong, other than accidentally cut through the wrong subdivision. See that's the problem: they all look the same. Every subdivision looks like every other subdivision so for someone who navigates the world by landmarks and not street names, it's ridiculously confusing.  You know the theme song for Weeds from the first season (I don't know if they still use it because I only ever watched the first season)? I may or may not sing that song in my head when I drive around the 'burbs. I mean they just look like little matching boxes. For some reason, cities don't all look the same to me. Not even Paris with it's neatly matching buildings. There's always something to set each area apart from the others.

All I know is that I confused the two old ladies out for a walk when I passed them three times from two different directions at varying speeds.  To those old ladies: I was just as confused as you but you could probably guess that.

Sure I'd love to have a dog and a garden someday. I mean, look how beautiful Mom's flowers are! That is one thing I never quite mastered in the city. While I can grow a mean pepper plant in my parent's backyard I can't get anything to grow in a pot in my apartment and none of my apartments have allowed me to put out any window boxes. So mostly I just had a collection of dead plants and a few struggling cacti. And as I sit on our back porch and listen to the birds sing and watch the squirrels scamper through the trees, I am glad for the suburbs in a strange way.

One day I'll have some kids and move to somewhere they have a backyard to grow up playing freely in. But I still think I've got a few years of city living left to do.


All photos mine (taken in my parents' suburban backyard :) )

1 comment:

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