I’ve always been leery of a suburban existence. Think: house with a half-dozen bedrooms, two living rooms, bar in the basement, recessed lighting. High ceilings and sprawling, plain grass lawns. Open-concept kitchen. You know what I mean. Foyers trigger my fight-or-flight.
So I told myself when we moved into this house that it was still relatively safe from those tropes. It’s small, simple, like a kid’s drawing of a house. We’re closer to the Metroparks than to a mall (dead or otherwise). Every spring, Patrick digs up a patch of the lawn at my bidding and I sow wildflowers, herbs, and vegetables.
Still, I wonder if I’m trapped into a suburban existence anyway. There’s the isolation, for one thing– although I try to remind myself that when we don’t have a month of unbroken snow cover, there are neighbors I often see and chat with. There’s a ceaseless wave of stuff. There’s an endless list of tasks.
The thrift store down the street is getting torn down to make way for a shopping plaza, which I’m sure will feature a brick facade and fake lampposts. I drove past it the other day. Empty windows, one of them smashed open and boarded up with plywood. Abandoned shopping carts rested against concrete pillars. Around the back, graffiti and potholes and scraggly trees from which emerged a group of bucks, looking timid without their antler crowns.
I think about the poachers in the park and about the target-point arrows I found in the woods a block away from my house. I think about the truck idling beside the field, the man watching me behind tactical sunglasses. I think about the old neon sign that used to hang off the building at the end of my grandma’s street, how now it’s been replaced by something generic. I think about how every town in America has identical shopping plazas. I think about how I used to know a woman who threw native plant seeds in the weedy lot behind the Parma Theater for years, and how the whole thing got bulldozed to make way for another fucking CVS.
I sometimes think I couldn’t live out in the country because it’s inevitable that the sprawl would catch up. The farms and fields and woods surrounding my home would be eaten up over the years by housing developments and big box stores. I say to myself that I wouldn’t be able to watch it happen– better to be somewhere that’s already chewed through with pavement, and better yet if that pavement is starting to crumble, pushed aside by weeds and crisscrossed with animal tracks.
But I know the truth is that it doesn’t matter where you are, or where you go. Change is always gonna chase you.