Ten years ago this summer, we moved to the suburbs. We left the city for the typical reasons. My wife and I decided we needed more space. We thought the boys should have a backyard. And we had no intention of drinking past 10.
In many ways, we’ve adapted very nicely to the suburbs. The boys play in the backyard. My wife loves planting and killing flowers. I’m happy to have a driveway.
Yes, despite my casual complaints and periodic yearnings for the city, I think moving to the suburbs has worked out for my family and me. I’d even say we’ve adapted nicely. We appreciate the hum of crickets, bunnies running around freely, and the thrill of the UPS delivery.
However, there are some ways in which my family – well, me in particular – has not adjusted to the suburbs. So on that, here are six reasons why I still don’t belong in the suburbs.
1. I don’t own a barbecue
Not an in-ground, electric or even a hibachi. You ever walk around the suburbs around 5 p.m. on a weekend in the summer? I guarantee you smell someone grilling faster than can say “white picket fence.” However, you won’t be sniffing or rubbing your eyes from smoke by my house. No barbecue here and no interest. Shoot, we don’t even have a deck to put the it on.
2. I’m uncomfortable buying in bulk
Advertisements such as “48 rolls of toilet paper for $14.99” send people scurrying. Customers bring multiple shopping carts and are disappointed when they see the limit is three packages. Seriously, why the hell does anybody need that much freakin’ toilet paper? You know, just because you have the storage space doesn’t mean you have to fill it. Nah, I’ll stick to the 4 pack. Or maybe go crazy and buy the 8-pack.
3. Our house doesn’t have an addition
Nor do we plan on adding one. Yes, thankfully, we have equity in our house. Yes, I know rates are still low, traditionally speaking. Sure, I wouldn’t mind a bigger house, but instead of competing against the neighbors to see who has the biggest house, I’m simply going to live in mine.
4. We don’t own a minivan or an SUV
We have a Honda Accord. That’s it (I know one car – roughing it). While picking up the boys at camp or attending a school event, it’s hard not to look around, notice, and then wonder, “Does size matter?” Does everyone really need a huge car to schlep around their 2.1 kids? There’s only time a year that I want a bigger car and that’s when we drive toward our rented vacation home for one week. The boys are squished and even have had to carry suitcases on their laps. I feel bad then about the size of the car. But it passes and therefore, I’ll pass on the minivan.
5. I don’t go to the mall
It’s not a rule or anything but I have no interest in going to a mall. We have a huge mall near us – hey, we live in Jersey – with many top stores. One could buy everything they need – clothes, furniture, electronics, kitchen ware, linens. And then there are the three wings – under one massive roof. Nah. Not for me. In fact, if the movie theater wasn’t in the mall, I don’t think I’d ever go there. Well, one day, 30 years from now, maybe my wife and I will walk around the mall as a form of exercise. For now, the mall holds no interest for me.
6. I mow my own lawn – standing up
While I do hate mowing my medium-sized lawn, I can’t imagine how doing so while sitting down on a tractor would make it more pleasant. Now, if they put a television on the tractor, I might reconsider. Sorry, Mr. Gardener – I could use the exercise and soon the boys will take over.
So, does this make my family and I outsiders? Hmm, maybe we could drive to a destination a couple of blocks away and turn our noses up when someone suggests we actually walk. Walk? Nah, who walks? We’re suburbanites.
A version of this first appeared on Me, Myself and My Kids.