I've never really liked the suburban lifestyle. Why? A variety of reasons. I prefer the patchwork diversity of a more urban setting. I prefer older more established communities. I very much prefer the wider range of options afforded to those who live in the city boundaries. Actually those seem to be reasons to prefer city living. Why the disdain for the suburban dream? I could never really put my finger on until...
Let me set the scene.
I'm at a Chikfila for lunch at 123 Anywhere street USA. Well, to be sort of precise, the aforementioned
community in the Southeast Valley. The place is packed with the thirty-something moms and their little broods. A mixture of exhaustion, yearning, and pride can be read from their faces. They look cut from the same cloth. The hair, the number of children, the clothing selected from the entire spectrum of the gap catalog. Just hints at the real nugget. And then it comes.
Over the stereo comes a completely castrated jazz rendition of "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds". Gone are the psychedelic meanderings of a once creative genius. Replaced by a sterile copy, unoffensive enough that it can be placed comfortably at any number of stores selling any number of goods. That dreadful version of that great song served as my epiphany and helped me understand why the suburbs might be great for some but just not for me.
|Seriously? Which one is mine?|
Here's my impression of the suburbs. They represent a nice generalization of the ideal community that will satisfy the largest percentage of the population. Everything from the square footage of the Home Depot to the menu selection at the neighborhood Applebees, to type the of swings at the community park are almost scientifically designed to maximize the utility of the community.
Now, that is all fine and dandy if the interests, aspirations, and values of the community are completely homogeneous and non-offensive. But to someone who prefers to live in the "long tail" this type of environment is stifling and very unattractive. These communities leave very little room for creativity, diversity, and risk because they are just too inefficient and unprofitable to incorporate into the blueprints.
Now that is not to say that one can't be a risk taking, creative, diverse individual and still live in the suburbs. But the odds, by odds I mean the design of the community, are against you. That's why those types typically flock to a more urban setting. These communities are probably a great safe place to raise a family. And since we haven't reached that stage in our lives maybe we are unqualified to offer the critique.
Note: The impetus of this post was the response that we get in Mesa from most friends when they discover that we endeavor to move back to Phoenix.