I didn’t grow up in a neighborhood – I never had sidewalks or streetlights or mailboxes. My sister and I used to try to roller skate in the tiny bit of concrete that was the garage and we’d occasionally find a stray pig or horse in our front yard. We’d say ‘going into town’ and had to drive 20 minutes to the grocery store.
After I left home I lived in townhouses, apartments and houses with nary a pig or horse in sight. And I loved the proximity to friends and fun. Several years ago Steve and I lived in a tiny apartment in Downtown Orlando. It was built in the 1940s and however short on space it was it made up for it with charm. We loved this place – we walked to Lake Eola, the library, restaurants, bars, you name it. Unfortunately with the condo boom we knew it’s days were numbered so we moved. Just a year later it was demolished. The piece of land is still vacant.
And now we live in the suburbs. When I take my walks in the evening after Abi is asleep I smell what must be the quentisential smell of a suburban neighborhood – laundry and hamburgers. I can hear kids yelling and splashing in pools. I see lawns that look like someone really enjoys gardening and some that don’t.
It’s just so, so…in the middle. I can’t walk anywhere with a destination in mind, but I’m able to look out my front window into my neighbor’s garage. I find myself more and more wishing to have one or the other – living in the sticks or in a city. I know my neighbors, but I don’t really know them. We all pretty much stick to our own yards and wave hello from time to time. It’s a community without community.
My hope is that one day my parents will need our help and we’ll move the family into my childhood home and be able to have those things that I miss and haven’t been able to find since I left.