Airing of Grievances: Stuck in the Suburbs

Dear Suburbs,

How I’ve missed you. The near-constant buzz of running lawnmowers, rows on rows of Homeowner’s Association-approved, neutrally-painted homes that are just the slightest bit too close together (perfect for nosy neighbors peering into your yard during a wholesome family barbecue) and soccer moms jogging in Lululemon leggings all contribute to your dazzlingly dull atmosphere, which I am all too familiar with.

There was a distinct moment on my ride home from the airport that I knew I was approaching you. There’s a certain aura of Suburbia, like golden retrievers-meets-a Crate and Barrel catalogue-meets-sheltered kids riding Razor Scooters.

In some ways, your predictability is comforting. I know that around any given corner, I’ll find a Target or a Starbucks, or often a Target with a Starbucks inside. How else is a busy suburban mother supposed to tackle her grocery list, roughly as long as the September issue of Vogue, tucked into her Kate Spade bucket bag, without a grande-non-fat-no-whip-latte in hand?

But the comforts you offer  easy access to Chipotle, little-to-no traffic (aside from getting stuck behind an overzealous family going on a Sunday afternoon bike ride) and a neighborhood pool — aren’t quite enough to entertain me for an entire summer.

Soon, when the thrill of backyard trampolines, neighborhood barbecues that sound like an echo chamber of dads asking each other about football, and showers that don’t require flip-flops has worn off, I’ll be longing to return to New Orleans. When I’ve had a few too many run-ins with the parents of people I went to high school with, had the same conversation about college and laughed (to hide the internal panic) about getting a job in the “real world,” what feels like thousands of times, I’ll be ready to leave the monotony of your well-kept neighborhoods once again.

Please, I beg of you to understand, it’s nothing personal. In many ways, your monotony made me feel safe  I know exactly what time the elementary school gets out, which means avoiding it like the plague lest I get stuck waiting for hordes of children to cross the street for half an hour. I know the way to my high school friends’ houses by heart (and their garage codes, parents’ cell phone numbers, etc.), but compared to the freedom of living a semi-adult life on my own at school, life with you seems suffocating. Though that may just be the cloud of spray-on sunscreen that swallows the neighborhood whole for the duration of the summer.


Stuck in the Suburbs