Monday, March 18, 2013

city mouse and suburb mouse

So I live in the city now, I've been in various doubles and such for the last three years, I grew up in an inner-ring burb with a reputation for crackerism and general uncool dorkery that's now evidently kitschy chic in certain circles. I still think of rust belt chic as a white thing for canny marketers and the Instagram generation with no sense of history, but that's a whole other post.

I don't have the animosity towards the suburbs that my peers do because everyone's got their thing, and our things are different, and if you have kids, you probably want to send them to schools that don't suck if you have the means and having a yard where they can run around and not be cooped up in an apartment building is kind of nice. Not that suburban schools don't suck, but I get why it appeals to people because in a strange way, it kind of appeals to me. I never thought I'd say this.

The smugness and snobbery of the new urbanistas gets a little old because it really hits me as being self-absorbed at best and mean-spirited at worst. It's just as snooty to look down one's nose at people who like Nickelback and go to Applebee's (is it just me or is this lady kind of mean and profoundly unfunny) as it is to condescend to those of us who decide to live in the Big Bad City in proximity to Those People If You Know What I Mean.

But when I go back to where I grew up, it's not so bad. My parents have awesome neighbors who look out for each other, there's a lot of stuff within walking distance. I rode my bike way more in the suburbs than I do in the city for reasons not limited to but including crazy people on the road, not very nice Bike People, and the whole solo female thing that makes certain activities more complicated. 

I know there's crime everywhere, but things must have gotten dicey enough that even our lackluster CDC is starting to have meetings involving the local cops, the community and such. I feel way safer here than I did in the old almost-hood, but sometimes I dream of having a yard I can grow vegetables in instead of always living on the second floor of doubles and to know that if I call the cops they'll actually show up soon and not say things like "that's what you get for living in the city," as they said to the girls up the street when they got robbed.

I'm finally shedding the fortress mentality I developed at the old place, but the suburbs make more sense to me now than they ever did. I don't know what that says about me, but it's the truth. I love where I'm at right now, because my entire world is in such close proximity and the woes of the city are everywhere, but more and more I get the sense of things falling apart that I once did, and my roots here can only go down so far and I now wonder how long I'll stick around.



  2. no shame in seeking a bit of solace in the growing rings of ruins

    Going south, we watched spring
    unroll like a proper novel:
    forsythia, dogwood, rose;
    bare trees, green lace, full shade.
    By the time we arrived in Georgia
    the complications were deep.

    When we drove back, we read
    from back to front. Maroon went wild,
    went scarlet, burned once more
    and then withdrew into pink,
    tentative, still in bud.
    I thought if only we could go on
    and meet again, shy as strangers.

    "Fiction" by Lisel Mueller,