When in Suburbia

Dear Reader,

Are you a city person?

Although I grew up in the suburbs, when I moved to Boston for grad school, I found my new urban surroundings to be a natural fit. Now, having lived in a city for 5+ years, whenever I go home to visit family, I low-key experience culture shock.

There are an abundance of differences between the cities and suburbs, but for me, the starkest of all is one’s ability to get around. I grew up in the back of a Chrysler Town & Country (aka a minivan) and anywhere worth going was pretty much at least 15 to 20 minutes away. This short commute is no problem with a car, but without one, you’re basically stranded! Now, as a car-less adult, I find the distance between places in the suburbs and the lack of extensive public transportation to be insufferable.

In Boston, I have a current routine of taking the T (subway) to a fitness class and then walking to my university’s student center to get schoolwork done. Then, I would take a walk to a distant T station and come home or, on certain evenings, walk to class and after walk no more than five minutes to the T station and return home from there. There is so much walking to be done in the city. By design Boston can be a pedestrian’s paradise if one is so eager to get around on foot.

For this reason, getting in steps and exercise is most natural when I am in Boston. However, here in the burbs, such movement must be contrived. Luckily, I live in a large neighborhood, but still, walking up and down the many cul-de-sacs can only be interesting so many times. Regardless, the suburbs (at least where I’m from) can have their benefits.

Suburbs FTW*:

(*For the win)

  • Night Sky. Leaving home in the evening for a bowling outing, I was struck by the full moon glowing above our neighbor’s house. It’s not like I don’t see the moon in Boston, but honestly…I can’t remember the last time that I have! Similarly, there really are more stars in the sky on a cloudless night here. This observation reminds me of my middle school science extra credit assignments, where we were tasked with gazing up at the stars during certain times of the year at late hours to witness the north star, Cassiopeia, Orion’s belt, or even some distant planets.
  • Cars. If you have a car, the suburbs are great! Ever-y-thing is within your reach! Also, because you are outside of the hubbub, there is considerably less traffic (unless you get stuck behind a school bus, I suppose).
  • Quiet Spaces. Things are just more chill outside the city limits. No one is honking at you. There is no visible homeless population. People have their space. Things are just kind of…still. I guess this is the American dream?
  • Shopping. Maybe this one is counter-intuitive, but the suburbs can have great shopping options. One can’t often find outlet stores that sell products for discounted prices in the middle of downtown. The Tanger Outlets, which has locations in over 15 states as well as Canada, is a premier example.
  • Prices. Boston is expensive. I know that all cities are expensive, but seriously, once you travel outside the great metropolitan areas, things become much cheaper. For example, in pursuit of my acting hobby (more here), I considered getting head shots done while at home. In Boston, the typical headshot package costs $400+! However, back home, I could find decent options for around $250 – $300 (a steal!).

All in all, there is a lot to enjoy in the suburbs (if that’s your thing). However, for me, a restless, entertainment-seeking, public-transportation-dependent human — it’s just not going to work.

Regardless, I enjoyed my trip home. I sat in a car that I did not request through a ride-sharing app, walked around a big-a**-American mall, bowled at a place that doesn’t cost you two arms and a leg, and just loafed around in a quiet residential neighborhood.

Wishing you the best of both worlds!

Love,

Raven

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