October 15, 2007
Although I may go back for the Macaroni Grill
I spent a good amount of time in the suburbs this weekend. Six hours at least. Which is a long time, people. Longer than a flight to London or my perceived length of any Ethan Hawke movie. And I’m not talking about Arlington or Alexandria, which in many spots are pretty much pseudo-suburbs, but the burbs farther out, the ones that make you reset your trip odometer to see just how deep into the wilderness you’ve really wandered, and then leave you surprised when your ailing car makes it there and back in one piece. I’m talking the real deal.

I’m not sure where it came from, but just as I do for minivans and people would vote for George W. again if they could, I have a hearty bias against the burbs. To me, they just scream PTA and lots of teenagers with headgear and eating at chain restaurants. Although those are great things – maybe not the headgear? – for the folks who choose them, I just cringe when I think about living there. I grew up in a town within an hour of New York City, a quiet place with oak tree-lined road where kids could play Kick the Can in the front street after dark. You couldn’t pick up eggs at the supermarket without running into someone, or several someones, you knew. It was a wonderful and nurturing place to grow up and I wouldn't trade it; I’ve just always known I didn’t want to live there as an adult. Being too far away from a city represents suffocation to me, like being with a boyfriend who doesn’t let you go out with your girlfriends anymore.

And so it was yesterday that I went out to a well-known DC suburb, prepared to hit golf balls and watch the Redskins lose and then get right on back to civilization. Kim made fun of me several times given that I wasn’t familiar with any of the major highways one would travel to get there from the city. I felt a tinge of pride at that.

And then I spent the rest of the day feeling somewhat like an idiot. Because contrary to what I’d pictured, people in these wilds weren’t carrying around multiple babies at a time, one strapped to the front of the mother, another squirming in a harness on her back, and yet another on her head. The landscape, although riddled with SUVs, wasn’t covered in minivans, and natives were eating more than string cheese and pudding cups. Those in their Sunday best didn’t try to recruit me for mass. The town was just like my beloved city, but with long-lost space and convenience. And more than two lanes of well-paved roadway to get you from A to B. Ingenious.

The suburbs were comfortable. They were easy. While there, I didn’t triple check that my car doors were locked (admittedly, I did check once). Things were just so spacious, so green, and so pristine! Where bees and pansies share the frame, why would you need to put a Club on your steering wheel? Do you need to be reminded, as I apparently did, that in this wonderland you can buy lettuce from Giant and Band-Aids from CVS and a fifth of Beam, all in the same shopping complex? And that even the teen salespeople know what customer service is? And that there’s parking? Sweet baby Jebus, the parking.

It’s a beautiful thing. All of it. And I stand corrected. But I’m still not moving there.


21 Comments:

Blogger Kim said...

Great! Now the 3 legged cat is out of the bag. If I see an influx of city dwellers here in my 'hood, I'm blaming you.

Blogger I-66 said...

She would deserve the blame, too. This suburbanite has already been gentrified enough, thank you.

Blogger ETK said...

well said well said.

Although, I don't think the same is true for all suburbs. Maybe just some (or the close ones?) around the metro-DC area. Some really are downright scary.

Blogger Heather B. said...

I thought moving to the suburbs would kill me. So far, so good though.

Blogger mysterygirl! said...

If they eat more than string cheese and pudding cups, they're one up on me...

Blogger Karen said...

I live in the burbs of NYC and I feel the exact opposite way you do. The thought of living in the city, where I would have to park my car blocks away from my home and where I couldn't go outside for a bbq in my own yard - with my own grass, give me anxiety.

I love to go into the city for dinner, drinks, shopping or whatever, but nothing beats coming home to my own house in the burbs.

Blogger janet said...

parking, Target, and Wendy's. My favorite things about the burbs. It's probably better for my health and my budget that I don't get them too often.

Blogger Gwen said...

Yeah, some 'burbs really are scarier than others. I lived in the city for years, with kids even, I've lived in the 'burbs for fewer years, and I miss the city fierce. My family doesn't, though, and here we stay.

Blogger Mamma said...

The parking does really make it worth it some days. Other days? I feel just as trapped as you imagine.

Blogger WildbillthePirate said...

One of the things that attracted me to my house is that I live about 1/4 mi. away from the public water supply & in the morning the deer are found quietly eating in the backyard. I work in the Bronx but I wouldn't want to live there! I think having at least 2-300 yards between you & your neighbors insures both privacy and cordial relations (when he doesn't allow ATV racing that is.)

Blogger Jen M. said...

Your bit about carrying babies on the head - snorted out loud.

Laughing and embarassed about this post. Mostly because I bought string cheese and pudding today at Safeway (it's a place where we buy food).

Craving a brownstone right about now.

Blogger Genevieve said...

the parking sounds nice, but what about having to drive everywhere? I'd rather deal with lack of parking for the few times I need to drive somewhere and be able to walk most places I go, I think.

Blogger JordanBaker said...

I miss the parking most of all. Sigh.

I've lived both in NYC and in the burbs. Both have pros and cons. Although Long Island (or Lawn Gisland as I call it) has a few more of the cons.

Parking - All good
Target - All good
Lawns and Yards - All good
Annoying Soccer Moms - Not so good
An Abundance of Chain Restaurants that Squeeze Out Really Good Independent Places - Not so good

Blogger Mamalujo said...

I couldn't help but think to myself while reading this, "hmmm, perhaps she'll even think about a baby?"

Blogger Freewheel said...

genevieve is right - who wants to have to drive everywhere?

Blogger Shawn said...

I sort of like the idea of living in a small town next to a big city. Wait...that's exactly where I am living. Holy crap! I'm living the dream and didn't even know it.

It's probably time to reassess that dream.

Blogger KB said...

Jump on in, the water is just fine!

I love my suburb. And my GOD I love the parking.

Blogger Erika said...

Kris!!! OMG I need to stop by more often. Whenever I have a chance to read this site, I end up staying for hours because you're such a great writer! How the hell are you, by the way? xoxo, Erika

Blogger t2ed said...

There is nothing better than seeing the minivan crammed with kids enroute to the soccer field adorned with a Nascar sticker while proceeding at a stately speed 15 miles under the limit.

Chili's, Bennigan's, Friday's and Ruby Tuesday's are all the same fried food but have different color schemes.

Blogger Lawyer Mama said...

Well, hell, even I (with a child) had an inside the beltway rule. I steadfastly refused to move outside of it, no matter how spacious the expanse of lawn and pavement. Of course now, now I live in hillbilly hell and I sometimes miss the traffic. I MISS THE FRIGGIN TRAFFIC!

Post a Comment

<< Home

footer