Saturday, June 14, 2008

Dear God, It's Me, Shane

I am slowly proceeding through the ten steps of readjusting to suburban life. First, there was relief to be home and sleep in my own room and make myself a salad. Then there was appreciation for the conveniences of life here. Then came annoyance, boredom, frustration, depression, and I am now back at appreciation. If I didn't cringe at the thought of life here, I could never love New York. And if there weren't a few things to come back to (the beach, my family), then I would be stuck in New York indefinitely without perspective. I am glad to be in Ventura for a while. And I am glad that I am leaving.

During my frustration period a couple of days ago, I sat at Peet's and composed a short list of some of the things that I despise most about living in the suburbs. It is far from finished, but I hope to begin to make the case from which I put myself on my little metropolitan pedestal.

Did my hatred of the suburbs spawn my love of the city, or does my love for the city create my abhorrence for the suburbs? It is hard to tell. The major problems I have with the suburbs are as follows:

  • There are no public gathering places. Sure there are a few parks, but the lack of walkability to the parks means that people must go out of their way to go there, therefore needing a specific reason to make their way there. There is no reason to just wander into a park in the suburbs, and if you do, there is not much taking place, because wandering there is not common among people.
  • There are too many cars. People drive everywhere because of urban sprawl creating traffic and congestion. As a form of transportation, cars are the least social, most polluting. With everyone in their own cars, not only are there more emissions, but the community doesn't have a shared sense of space. Everyone has their own space in their own cars with no necessary reason to get along. Even though people don't talk in the subway, and barely even look at each other, there is the sense that everyone has to share the same space, the same air. For the few minutes that you are underground, you have to get along with the people around you, even if you don't become best friends.
  • The suburbs do not promote a healthy lifestyle for young adults. The biggest complaint among my peer group is that there is nothing to do. After the sun goes down there is absolutely nothing to do. This goes back to both public space and transportation issues, but the basic consequence of the matter is that it promotes finding places to experiment with illicit substances. It is not that people in the city don't do it too, but the more distractions there are the less it gets done. Bars promote drinking, but paying $5 a drink significantly lessens the volume of alcohol consumed, compared to the suburban house party, which usually costs and attendant nothing to get completely wasted. The social aspect of the suburbs promotes major over consumption.
  • Have I mentioned that there is nothing to do in the suburbs?
  • The suburbs promote a sedentary, unhealthy lifestyle. People go from sitting at the office to sitting in their cars to sitting on the couch, get up, and do it again the next day. Additionally, air quality is not always the best in the suburbs, either. Pollution may come from the city, but what happens when the wind blows? The smog travels from the city to the outlying suburbs.
  • Driving and finding something to do promotes getting a DUI

Although, I have to say, this view isn't bad, either...

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