Six Reasons Why I Still Don’t Belong in the Suburbs

SuburbsIt was seven years ago this summer that my family and I moved to the suburbs. We left the city for the typical reasons. My wife and I decided we needed more space. We thought the boys should have a backyard.  And we had no intention of drinking past 10.

In many ways, we’ve adapted very nicely to the suburbs. The boys play in the backyard. My wife loves planting and killing flowers. I’m happy to have a driveway.

Yes, despite my casual complaints and periodic yearnings for the city, I think moving to the suburbs has worked out for my family and I.  I’d even say we’ve adapted nicely. We appreciate the hum of crickets, bunnies running around freely, and the thrill of the UPS delivery.

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Need More Winter Olympics? Join us in the Suburbs!!

Snow covered car - ready to drive

Keep the snow – ready to ride!

So long Sochi.

Bye bye Winter Olympics.

What are you going to watch from 8-11 pm?  Don’t fear. I have the perfect idea to fill your viewing void. Yes I am the bearer of good tidings.

Today I bring you – DRUM ROLL PLEASE – news of the Winter Olympics – Suburbs Style.

Who needs the Alps, Rockies or Himalayas?  Or even a mountainous area?

Not the Winter Olympics – Suburbs Style. That’s for sure.

Check out these events:

  1. Pot Hole Jumping – athletes run over ice and snow. They then leap over a massive pothole that has arisen due to excessive salting during this winter of our discontent. A clean landing and takeoff are keys. In fact, athletes will be judged based on their approach, landing and of course if they actually clear the pothole.
  2. Snow Pile Walking  – this one’s all about speed and balance folks.  Athletes will walk briskly over jagged mounds of snow which stand up to eight feet high. The snow pile will start at the end of the driveway and end at a bus stop. Of course the wind plays a factor too as well as the lost gloves, hats and other winter paraphernalia that liter the snow pile.
  3. Snowman Building – creativity, patience, teamwork, and speed are required for this event. Yes teamwork. This is a two person event – parent and child (under 10) will build a snowman five feet tall. Each snowman will be made out of three balls of snows. Arms and facial features must be included. Points will be subtracted for children wining, throwing tantrums, or simply walking away.
  4. Newspaper Dash – speed and balance. Which athlete has got this package? The athlete will run down icy steps (with an iced railing) around a car, and another car, over a flower bed fence to the end of their driveway, unbury the newspaper, and have to run back. In their thermal bathrobes. Style counts baby!
  5. Snow Car Driving  – this event is about vision and brushes. Yes, brushes. Each athlete will be armed with a snow brush to remove snow from their car (I see sponsorship opportunities) and driving to Home Depot (another sponsorship. This event is a bonanza!). Sounds simple right? Hold on to your minivan dvd player, there’s more. You see athletes must decide how much snow to brush off as each swipe takes time. The best athletes can clear a small patch of front window on the driver’s side and still navigate the route with ease.
  6. Driveway Ice Skating – grace, beauty, balance. This event requires it all. Couples dancing gracefully to their favorite Kidz Bop song while their children shield their eyes in embarrassment yelling stop. By the end of the song the couple will have made it to the bottom of the driveway incline and lifted up their fallen trashcans. Oh and ice skates are forbidden. Instead thick woolen clunky books are required for each member of the duo.
  7.  Snow blower Races – self-explanatory, I know. However, let me tell you about the history behind this. You see the first Suburb Olympics in Levittown, NY had Shoveling Races. This is the first Olympics where Snow blowing has replaced Shoveling. The purists are in an uproar. However, all can appreciate the challenge that comes with keeping the blower on the sidewalk and driveway and not going on the lawn. After all tearing up the lawn is an indefensible crime in the suburbs. 

So what do you say to Winter Olympics – Suburbs Style? Sounds great – right? Even better, I think I might be able to compete in an event or two.  How about you?

Photo is Courtesy of Flickr

Missed Moment: Have You Seen My Child?

Child gone missing in the suburbs

Stay on the premises!!

“Come on. Have another,” I encouraged my house guest. It was as if someone had turned the clock back, and we were pledges in a fraternity.

It was a year and a half after my family and I had moved into our new home. The transition from city to suburban living was challenging. My wife and I missed life in New York City. Though my wife and I were rarely able to enjoy the happenings around the city as we were too busy looking after our young children, we missed the business, the culture, and the nightlife. But we needed a yard, a garage and good schools, so the suburbs were where my young family and I belonged.

I thought meeting people in the suburbs would be easy. You have a 5-year-old? Well, I also have a 5-year-old. Let’s have a barbeque in the backyard.

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Help Me Deal with Suburbanitis

Massive house in Suburbs surely causing suburbanits

Massive suburban house surely causing envy/suburbanitis.
Courtesy of Suburban Stock Photo

There’s a reconstruction going on at the end of my block. The house was originally a standard 2000 square foot split level, and it is being tripled in size. It has been turned into a behemoth.

The reconstruction began in May. My boys and I drove past it every day on the way to camp this Summer.  We always had a comment regarding the progress, “look at the hole they’re digging, that door is huge, the windows are in now.”

For the boys, the voyeurism was your typical looking through the hole at the construction site.

However, for me, the gawking was different.

It was envy.

I know envy is one of the seven deadly sins. Every religion, psychologist, and self-help guru warns against it.

Yet, I struggled.

I looked at my own house. Suddenly, my 3-bedroom, 2.5 bath seemed inadequate. It wasn’t just the kitchen and the master bedroom which seemed too small for me. I wanted the behemoth.

This version of house envy is part of what I call suburbanitis.

It hit me especially hard when I first moved to the suburbs. I noticed the other houses on your block, in your neighborhood. Inevitably, some are bigger, more modern, and have better landscaping.

Suburbanitis enters stage two when I actually entered my  neighbors’ houses. Once inside these confines, inevitably I found homes that have more attractive furnishings, more vibrant colors, and are more organized.

No matter how hard I or anyone tries, you can never win.

And that’s the whole point. When you get caught up in suburbanitis, the envy gnaws at you. The perpetual flow of catalogues that are delivered to your house feed suburbanitis. You feel compelled to buy, to keep up with the Jones.’ To rid of yourself of suburbanitis. But you can’t win. Even if you are the wealthiest person on your block or in your neighborhood. Someone is always getting something new, else, better.

I’ve struggled greatly with suburbanitis.

It hit me hard when my family and I arrived in the suburbs a little over six years ago. My wife, on the other hand, was more grounded. In fact when a neighbor wanted to show us her house so we could see what one could do with a split level, my wife’s retort was, “I can live in it.”

Ironic that my wife is the one who enjoys the catalogues and does the buying for our house.

Yet, I wanted everything – the big house that was lavishly decorated with all the trimmings. Not to mention the multiple brand new cars.

These things were simply not in my budget. I had a job, teaching, that while steady and rewarding at times, paid a mediocre salary.  Was it the wrong job? Why couldn’t I support my family the way they deserved to be supported?

Simple – suburbanitis.

As time passed, my case of suburbanitis faded to the background. Did I get used to the big fancy houses and not think they were nicer than mine.

Not quite.

Instead, I remembered something. I have what I have because that is what I am supposed to have. I don’t have what I don’t have because I am not supposed to have it. It’s called faith. And it trumps suburbanitis.

However, my touch of suburbanitis still flares up on occasion. The house on the corner being the perfect example.

“Hey boys. Let’s talk to neighbors who live in that house?”

“What? Do they have kids?”

“I don’t know. Maybe, they can invite us to the house. I think we could all move in and still have plenty of room? What do you say?”

“Are you serious?”

A part of me is. Suburbanitis is a powerful disease.