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Burbs v. Urbs: When Idiots Investigate

This is what every day looks like in the suburbs, right?

Things happen in a person’s life. They have children. They accumulate furniture. They enter their minivan years. They outgrow the miniature apartment-sky-box they have jammed themselves into, and would like to consider introducing those children they had to such things as ‘grass’ and ‘physical fitness’. Maybe they have become concerned that their apartment is turning into a belfry from whence they stare down at the streets of New York with their ghostly pale skin and wonder if plants still grow from seeds like they used to, or if things have changed since the last time they spent time investigating nature. Maybe plants now give birth to themselves. How should they know? They live in a plant-less human terrarium overlooking a west side NYC sanitation depot.

Maybe these people (aka me and my husband) start to need a house. Possibly. Not sure yet. (Writing those words down just made me sweat from my under-boob.)

I think I can say with certainty that most people who live in Manhattan with little kids, have at some point at least, however briefly, contemplated packing it in and moving to the suburbs. This is where we are currently ‘living’ in our brains. In a renovated center hall colonial in a bustling suburban community of urban expats and wise folksy locals. (It also has a world class farmer’s market. And a mind blowing Halloween festival. Also, a kick-ass July 4th. And a truly great coffee shop. Maybe an Anthropologie. Minimally, everyone in town brings you a freshly baked pie on the day you move in.)

That is correct. My fantasy suburb is 49% my favorite writers,  49% Garrison Keillors, and 2% retired rock stars living side by side in a leafy green Martha Stewart Living photo essay, twenty minutes away from NYC. And yes, I ALSO realize that I have not thought this through AT ALL, and that I am delusional. Thank you.

So begins our quest to decide whether or not we should move, if so, where…and also when, and how, and Oh-My-God, are we really thinking about trying to re-invent ourselves again, and maybe this isn’t a good idea. Three kids can sleep together in a room together forever or at least until they grow up, right? Right?!

The Strategy

  1. Go visit all viable suburban areas within a twenty minute commute.
  2. Cancel Step One immediately and expand territory to a one hour commute.
  3. Laugh at selves for being such idiots.
  4. Visit schools in suburban neighborhoods. But in a half-assed way, as we did the other day from the vantage point of our car, imagining that just by staring at the building, we could somehow intuit the quality of the education going on inside.
  5. Eat in a local restaurant, but not in a fun way—in a staring way, like, ‘could I imagine myself having Sunday brunch here every week, and shouldn’t I order just one bite from everything on the menu so that I know for sure?’
  6. Sit outside houses we like with For Sale signs on the lawns, as we Google the address and generally act creepy and suspicious.
  7. Drive away from those houses like frightened children when residents of said houses peer out the window at them. The couple who would appear to be casing their beloved home in preparation for a Holiday Weekend robbery.
  8. Repeat Step Three.

And since we’re on the subject of robbery, I should say, that’s what prompted this whole investigation in the first place; the question “are we robbing our children of something magical by not giving them the suburban experience?” Are we being selfish by not providing our children with a lawn?

If you happen to know, please tell me. And if not,  please dispatch Garrison Keillor to my apartment immediately. Because he and I have a lot to discuss.

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Check out previous posts by Sam

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The Hallowe’en Whisperer

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