Suburban living was designed with the middle class in mind. The flight of the affluent to neighborhoods outside of large metropolitan areas started happening after WWII and steadily rose as both crime and corporate salaries rose to new highs. People wanted a place to raise children. The goal was to get those children an education that would allow them to be even more successful than their guardians. City became second to Suburbia. The Suburbs, where one could enjoy the finer things in life (i.e. backyards and a place to park) while still being a short drive away from the crime and large minority population that drove these [mostly] white European descendants out in the first place.
I never appreciated how nice my parents house was until I moved into my dorm room for Freshman Orientation. Constantly surrounded by people. Communal bathrooms. A roommate who was nowhere close as tidy as I wanted him to be. Yes, living in a dorm was cool for about three weeks. And then it got old. Sharing a room, sleeping five away from someone else, it was all too much for me. I was ready to move into a house my sophomore year.
I’ve been renting apartments or rooms in houses since I was 20 years old, and although the last apartment I rented in Chicago was certainly not the worst place in the world, it was definitely not the nicest either. I dealt with rat infestations, a landlord who ignored requests for fixes on leaky pipes, and a building that was falling apart. By the end of my first year in Chicago, I had killed something like ten rats with glue traps. Those things are fucking medieval, and I don’t even want to get into the details of how I dealt with rats who had gotten stuck on their back. Suffice it to say I’m a regular Charlie Kelly when it comes to murdering rats and mice.
The amenities one gets when they move back to a parents home for, say, a week like I am doing, are endless. There’s always a plethora of fresh fruit and awesome food lying around. It’s not an exaggeration to say that my mom goes to the grocery store every single day. I think that must be a mom thing because I swear she goes to the grocery store some days and doesn’t even buy anything. Just enjoys being around the fresh produce and what not. But do the comforts of your parents house outweigh the cons of well, going home to live under the same roof as them? In my case, I think they do. If this was a long-term deal where I had to live with them for more than a week I think I’d lose my mind.
So I’ve been at my parents house for three days now. Other than watching new episodes of Bloodline and Peaky Blinders, I haven’t really done a whole lot. When I leave the comforts of the air conditioning and endless premium cable options, I’ve made it a priority to be in the sun. I have a wedding coming up this weekend that I need to look good at, so any excuse to get some melanin is welcomed. What I’ve noticed whilst people watching from my porch is something that I hadn’t even thought about before – Suburban neighborhoods are adult dormitories.
Think about your freshman year dorm hall. You guys probably had floor meetings once or twice a semester and within a few weeks, you knew who was weird on your floor and who was tolerable enough to invite to a pregame in your dorm with that sick Bob Marley poster. Other than people constantly hooking up (maybe every marriage in my parents neighborhood is like Real Housewives and everyone is fucking each other) a neighborhood has a lot of the annoyances that came with college dormitory living. Anyone who grew up in a neighborhood knows that your parents had certain couples they hated down the street and certain ones who would get invited over for drinks on Saturday night. The only difference now is that everyone in the neighborhood has money. Instead of Burnett’s, it’s a Woodford Reserve Manhattan. Instead of a Bob Marley poster, it’s an Ansel Adams picture framed and a wall with pictures of the kids graduating college.
Remember those mandatory floor meetings at the beginning of the semester? Well, I don’t know much about Home Owners Association Meetings, but I imagine they’re pretty similar to when the R.A.’s introduce themselves and make sure everyone knows the rules. No loud noises after 10 o’clock. No illicit drug use. And checking in visitors for the weekend is absolutely the equivalent of letting the HOA know that you’ll be having a large party with several vehicles on the street. I love my parents neighborhood, but is putting up a facade 24/7 really worth it just so they can say they live in a nice neighborhood?
If it was me, I’d choose to build a house on a hill, with no neighbors and a winding driveway that lets drivers by know I’m not to be trifled with. But I don’t have a wife. Or a girlfriend. So I’m sure if I ever do get married, that house on the hill dream is going to be dashed in favor of a large Colonial squeezed in between The Berkowitz’s and The Johnson’s. One can dream, though. .