Last night Jason and I drove north to White Plains and went to a PF Chang's there. The PF Chang's is in a big fancy mall, which we walked around while waiting for our table. I usually hate malls, but I actually enjoyed the familiarity of it. The whole experience brought me to a sad realization...I miss suburbia..
I grew up in suburbia. We had the nice two story home in a subdivision with a two car driveway, fenced in back yard, laundry room, etc. There were strip malls and big fancy grocery stores and winding, tree lined streets where you could ride your bike, or go for a walk, though you could rarely walk anywhere useful. Usually, you had to drive, and driving was easy because everywhere had big parking lots with lots of space. Going grocery shopping mid-week was easy, because you just drove there on your way home from work, or heck, at 10:00pm if you wanted to. You always had free parking wherever you went, especially at home, even if you got in at 3:00am. At some point in my adolescence, I decided that hated living in suburbia. I felt like it was all kind of fake and somewhat sheltered. I was sure that my parents were doing me a real disservice by keeping me out of the dirty, gritty, urban environment. I vowed that as soon as I could, I would move to a city and would raise my kids in the city, exposed to all the grime and grit.
Fast forward to my first year out of college. I move across the country to live in the Bronx, NY. It's urban, it's gritty, its so not sheltered. It's the opposite of easy. Every errand takes longer than it should and requires more planning. Though you can walk everywhere, that's not always helpful when you're buying groceries or taking your laundry to the laundromat. You take the subway everywhere, and carry big heavy grocery bags for blocks at a time. And though it was difficult, I liked it. I felt urban and real.
I've lived here for five years and I no longer like how difficult it is. I quickly grew weary of the tiny grocery store with minimal selection, near-rotting produce and narrow, too-crowded aisles. Although I developed some good arm muscles, I hated having to carry my grocery bags for blocks at a time, or, if I went to a nice grocery store in Manhattan, for an hour on the subway. Not long after Jason moved here, we got a car. And although it allows us to escape the city whenever we want, it presents a whole new set of challenges. We either have to pay $200 a month for a guaranteed parking spot or take the gamble and search for street parking, sometimes for as long as an hour! I realize that these challenges are not unique to us and that many people deal with these and far worse for many more years. However, I miss how much easier things were in suburbia...
I am now embarrassed to say that I relish in simple suburban pleasures like the Stop n Shop and Costco in New Rochelle, or (yikes) the big fancy mall and high end chain restaurants like PF Chang's in White Plains. I miss having a driveway where you have a guaranteed parking spot, and a yard.
I hate admitting this. I always thought that I would be the cool, urban parent - but now I want my kids to grow up in suburbia too. That doesn't mean that I want them to be sheltered, but I want them to have a yard. And I want things like grocery shopping and running other errands to be simple. I would really like to have a washer and dryer in my residence, so that I don't have to choose between racing home so that I can use my building's laundry before it closes at the unreasonable hour of 7:00pm, or spending my whole Saturday doing laundry, or loading up the car to go to the laundromat and then trying to find the dreaded parking spot when we get home! I wonder, does this make me spoiled? Does it make me too much of a consumer? I don't know exactly what it makes me, but I am slowly coming to accept that I not only miss, but actually find value in the ease of suburbia.
Well, with that sad realization, at least I know that when we finally do leave NYC we will fully appreciate the ease of a more suburban lifestyle...although, I'm still not sure I want to live in a subdivision...maybe we can find some kind of happy medium...