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Prompt 162: Life in the 'Burbs
162. Some refer to the suburbs as an absence of real fun while others praise it for the security needed to raise a family. What is your reason for living the suburban life and would you pick it again if given a choice? Did all of the hopes you or your family had for the suburbs come true?
Nowadays, I'm in unequivocally rural territory. However, that's a very recent development and until maybe last week, I'd moved back and forth between exclusively city and suburban locales. It was easier to live in the 'burbs, but up until a car hit me while riding my bike I enjoyed city life much, much more.
You have to drive everywhere in the 'burbs to have any fun. Maybe this is why most people in the 'burbs want awesome, gigantic houses and plenty of gadgets with which to fill them. Maybe I have a lot more in common with the suburbanite than I'm willing to admit. I'd rather stay home and work on personal projects, maybe visit nearby friends, instead of driving out to some soulless strip mall just to eat at a generic chain restaurant.
Even when wanting to experience nature, suburbanites most likely need to drive out there. City folk, I understand. It's literally outside the city. However you'd expect urban planners to think ahead a little bit, and in the suburban donut they'd provide for some natural beauty instead of provide for sprawl. However, even as a little boy, I saw the natural world whittled away by developers wanting to fit more single-family rowhomes/"townhomes" in suburbia.
When I was in second grade, like 9 years old, our family moved from a small town in the midwest to the 'burbs in a state along the mid-Atlantic coast of the US. I spent most of my life in that state, but it was when I was young - before the age of 19, most definitely - that I was raised and in the suburbs.
There were still some wild spaces when I was that age. Running through the development were a couple creeks, and I would spend entire summer days milling about in the waters, building stone dams, looking for crawdads and turtles. Several friends had large yards that backed-up against wooded strips of "unattractive" land. When our family first moved to that development, there was a massive construction site where I would go "dirt bikin'" out there for hours. We would throw stones and large rocks in the retention ponds. Later the next year, it had been covered with single-family homes and fenced-in lawns of oversaturated, Chemlawn green.
I could also mention Snow Hill, which was across the street from our house, abutting the edge of the development's property and bordered by apartments on one side and untamed wilderness (or so I imagined) on the other. Our winter mainstay of sledding and snowball fights at least lasted until I had moved to the city. It's now striped with townhomes, and kids stay inside during the winter, cozied up in front of an artificial fireplace with the glow of their Nintendo Switch.
Further in town, there were two enclosed shopping malls, one of which still stands there today. Across the road was a large farmer's field, where a lone cow grazed. Local legend has it that as soon as that cow died, the farmer would sell off his property to developers and it would be the next big construction commerce project for town.
Well, someone must have had a hankerin' for hamburger sometime in the early 90s because before I knew it, I was entering high school and there was a Blockbuster and a TCBY in that former grazing pasture.
I've written about the shortcomings of the 'burbs in previous entries, so I suppose this one's no different. Would I want the "security" were I to raise a family? I certainly would prefer that to city life - at least the cities in which I've lived. One was overrun with crime and drugs, the other was overrun with racism and religious fanatics.
At least in the burbs you can maintain a pocket of anonymity. It certainly would be easier to mold offspring in your own image. It didn't have to be that way, but what a boring, boring place the suburbs have become.