Now, before you roll your eyes and accusing me of using hyperbole for effect (who, me? never!), let me acknowledge that I spent the first 18 years of my life smack dab in the middle of the most suburban place you can imagine. Nice brick houses with nice lawns. Two cars in every garage. Strip malls and shopping malls and "big box" stores abounding. Chain restaurants. The whole nine yards.
I went to college, lived in the city, and never really turned back.
Every great now again, however, I get a deep yearning for my giant-parking-lot-having, car-with-kid-safety-seat-driving, lightwash-jeans-and-white-tennis-shoes wearing suburban brethren. Why? Well, goshdarnit, even I'll concede there are some things that are just downright convenient, like buying an entire case of moist cat food, instead of dragging back one or two at a time from the corner bodega.
And who can resist the deep-friend temptation of the occasional dalliance with a restaurant where the only way you know your table is ready is the buzzing, red light winsomeness of a plastic pager in your hand?
Most amazing to me is that you can shop with coupons at clothing stores. I'd almost forgotten about such conveniences. Oh! And layaway! Brilliant concept that's all but completely ignored in urban areas. Sorry, but I'll always have fond memories of the anticipation for items in layaway. Hold on, Barbie Dream House...we're almost there!
As fun as these minor excursions and fleeting memories are, though, I truly feel like a stranger in a strange land. I alight to chain stores in my rented-for-the-hour hybrid, Paddington handbag tucked under my arm, and proceed to look only for things marked "organic" as I troll the grocery aisles for my favorite vegetarian items. What a jerk!
It's true: I don't belong. Things feel kinda familiar for just a bit, but I quickly remember why I've long since left behind the world of subdivisions and drive-throughs. It's just not me. These aren't my people. And as I park the Zipcar back in its lot and bike home to my tiny urban dwelling, I feel a sense of peace and calm. My own little slice of perfect existence.