I grew up in the suburbs of Cleveland, OH, a relatively mid-size, Midwestern, American city. I was just another suburban teen awaiting with angst the day I could get out and live my big city dreams. Then, I somehow ended up on the world’s tiniest college campus in yet another small, suburban town. Jump to present day reality: I’ve finally made the move. But, after three months of living here, I’ve got to admit, I really miss the suburbs!
I think Lynette was on to something in her essay…city life is not all its cracked up to be. The Carrie Bradshaw fantasy of NYC still looms large in little girls’ imaginations so it almost feels taboo to acknowledge the downsides. But, can we talk about how stressful an experience Trader Joe’s on a Sunday is?? And then having to schlep your grocery bags all the way home, in the rain, wearing ill-equipped shoes!! Oh, how I miss the days of leisurely perusing my hometown market before loading my groceries into my roomy trunk and driving home. And it’s amazing how many cool things are constantly happening in the city—but, sometimes I just want to lie on my couch without FOMO! I love the cheesiness of suburban malls. I love the geniality of running into friends at the one local coffee shop or bar—the ease of only having several choices is kind of underrated. And I love living less than ten minutes from my grandparents!
A few weekends ago, I visited my friend in Connecticut and we strolled around HomeGoods, ate Chipotle, and went to a movie theater without having to book a ticket in advance! It was so suburban and so wonderful.
When my mom calls, she keeps asking if I’ve met friends in my apartment building yet. I keep trying to explain to her that it doesn’t really work that way, people keep to themselves, people are busy, I’m lucky if I get a “thank you” for holding the elevator door for someone. Maybe I’m more of a small-town, suburban girl than I ever realized.
Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy the occasional solo dinner date, night-time yoga class, and inexpensive manicure—hallmarks of the city girl’s life. I love the easy-to-find free, live music and the amount of books I whiz through on the subway. And I love my job, absolutely love my job, which could not exist anywhere but New York.
So, maybe I just need more patience and time to really cultivate a feeling of home here. I’m a twenty-two-year old, single woman, but I consider myself a homemaker in the sense that I’ve always felt a deep-rooted need to create a home wherever I am. I think this is why moments like transitions and goodbyes, in general, are very hard for me.
Marina Keegan, a writer I admire, once wrote, “It’s not quite love and its not quite community; it’s just this feeling that there are people, an abundance of people, who are in this together…that make us feel loved and safe and part of something even on our loneliest days.” That is how I felt growing up in Cleveland, how I felt the summer I lived in the mountains of Telluride, and how I felt on my tiny college campus. I’m lucky because I’m starting to feel this way with the girls at the Atelier and with several of my friends that have moved here as well.
But, ever since I was young, New York has always lived in the forefront of my imagination as the end-all-be-all dream, and what I’m starting to realize is that dreams can change. I’ll find my routine, seek out community, and create my home here. It will be good. But, I’m keeping my mind open to possibilities for divergent futures. And who knows, several years from now, the suburban life may come back calling for me.