Sunday, March 25, 2012

Learning to Love Suburban Ennui

I actually had a whole post about this which I mostly ditched because it sounded too whiny. So I'm trying again.  

There are advantages to where I live, in probably one of the most boring corners of suburbia anywhere. I love being on a court because there is no traffic. Very rarely does anyone ever drive by our house (we're smack in the middle of the court, so even our neighbors usually don't drive in front of our house). It's quiet, and lots of times that is very nice, even if that means our kids are sticking out like a sore thumb with their noisiness. We have a really decent sized backyard, big enough for a swing set and a trampoline and a pool, with plenty left over. The freeway is only about a mile away, which is obviously super convenient. There are lots of stores and restaurants nearby (not necessarily my favorite stores and restaurants, but at least they are readily available). My mom lives less than 5 minutes away, and Chris's parents each live about 10-15 minutes away (in opposite directions). School is about a mile away, and our church - where Bethany played basketball - is literally right around the block. Yes, there are many convenient aspects to living here.

Convenience, however, does not totally make up for dull. Some of my friends live in lovely subdivisions with dozens of children and people having bon fires on their driveways every night, where the kids flit from yard to yard and the adults hang out and are actually friends with one another. But not us. After three years, we barely know our neighbors. There are  no other kids on our court. People keep to themselves. I went for a walk yesterday, and I saw only one other person out for a walk, in 40 minutes. If I leave our neighborhood, it's all heavy traffic and ugly concrete buildings.

I love walking but I don't like dealing with traffic. So I walk around my neighborhood, all the while trying to pay attention to my surroundings to keep myself occupied. I try to notice the flowers and trees, animals and birds, holiday decorations, and landscaping or masonry that I admire. I try to make the best of it, but it does get so boring. What I need is a friend in my neighborhood, that would make all the difference in the world. Friends for my kids would be good too. Having to drive everywhere to do or see anyone is sort of the pits.

My dream live somewhere with beautiful scenery, right outside my front door. To be able to take long walks, right from my doorstep, and see interesting things and people along the way. To have friends within walking distance. But I live where I live, and since we have no immediate plans of moving, I've got no choice but to do my best with what I have. Hopefully someday we'll live someplace that does a better job of matching my dream. In the meantime, I guess I have a couple choices. I can deal with the traffic, and cross the busy streets to get to our lakefront park, where I can walk while enjoying the scenery and a lake breeze. And I can come to terms with the fact that I need to drive in order to get to do anything good or see any of my friends. I can take long walks that are a lot more fun if I first drive a few miles to meet a friend or go to a larger park with better walking options.

Okay, I'm not sure I can learn to love my version of suburban ennui. Maybe the best I can hope for is dealing with it happily. And not minding driving a lot to escape it. And enjoying my home and yard more thoroughly. I'm pretty sure I can do those things.

When we moved into this house, I don't think we were thinking too much about the neighborhood, except that it looked neat and well maintained. We weren't thinking that we were across two busy streets from the elementary school. We liked the house, and we liked that it was on a court. But honestly we were mostly thinking that we needed to get in a house with enough bedrooms before Mathilda's arrival, and we just barely made it. It was a time of such crazy chaos in our lives. I'm not saying we necessarily made the wrong choice, but I think we were under too much pressure to make a choice at the time. Maybe we would have chosen to live someplace completely different had we been able to take our time a little more.

Do you love where you live? What makes it perfect, or what could make it better? Next time we move, I'd like to put a lot more thought into where we will be living. I need to get a good grasp on what would make a neighborhood ideal for us. Some things that would be on my list:
  • Kids in the neighborhood
  • Being able to walk to lots of places
  • Close to lovely scenery
  • Safe & close enough to walk to school (or maybe buses!)
  • Convenient for shopping, etc.
What would be on your list?  

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