Walking my dog recently on a sunny evening in South Boston, I passed a flustered woman stuffing bags into her car on the street. She may or may not have been talking to herself since I couldn't see a phone: "Well, since I'm leaving now, we'll NEVER get a spot when we get back." She paused, shoving the bags further into the passenger seat. Her voice then rose to the point of hysteria, almost screeching. "I can't LIIVVEE like this anymorrreeee!" She slammed her door, peeled out of her tiny street parking space and zoomed off.
Rather than dismissing her as some lunatic over a 12-second public meltdown, I thought to myself, "I hear you girl....I hear you."
I kept walking, past poop piles left behind from careless dog owners, past the skinny tree trunks poking through cement, their sad branches drooped over littered storm drains. Past the cars parked millimeters in front of one another. Many nights I've spent circling the block past 9:00 p.m., hope dwindling, rage bubbling as I'd speed up to a spot, only to see a fire hydrant. My psychotic breaks would occur inside my car though, with the windows up.
If there was a magical, affordable place that was close to the city but that had lots of space and a yard and my own driveway I'd live there in a second, and I'm sure this is no novel idea.
But we're all faced with two options here: the city or some variation of the 'burbs--which are pretty foreign to me since I grew up in kind of an unusual place: Cape Cod. I thought growing up there was perfectly normal and awesome but people will scoff at me, "Wow. there must have been NOTHING to do in the winter there." Oh really? What the F did you do in the winter in the 'burbs? Go to the movies? Go out to eat? Hang out at friends' houses? You're right buddy, we just sat around, starved, and waited for the bumper boats to open up in May!
Looking back I appreciate it so much more than I did then. We had awesome summers at the beach and we knew what spots were quality versus over-hyped wastes of time. We took field trips to the National Seashore. Our senior skip days were at the beach. If it wasn't so insular with too few jobs for young professionals, I'd live there in a heartbeat.
With that to look back upon, my view of the suburbs is a little jaded. I look at my boyfriend's hometown in Central Mass and I want to claw myself out of a box I'm not even in. It looks exactly like the opening credits of Weeds, each house identical.
But then I look behind our apartment at the trash that floats down from the neighbor's deck upstairs...which our dog eats...and I want out. Life's changing rapidly; soon my remaining friends in the city will leave, everyone will be scattered. "Little boxes on the hillside" may become more palatable.
In the meantime, I know how lucky I am to have the option to go home to the Cape in the summer to visit my mom and friends. Without that escape, I'd succumb to meltdowns on the street like that lady, or like my boyfriend, whose occasional freak outs include kicking the neighbor's trash aside like a child and yelling "I JUST want my OWN BACKYARDDD!!"
Ha, bring on summer!