Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Suburban Discontent

Up until about 18 months ago, I lived in a city and walked everywhere. Now I live in a small town and drive so often that my child thinks sidewalks are an exciting novelty. More than anything else about living here, that is what troubles me the most.

E's first year of life involved a daily stroller walk. We walked up the street to grab a coffee, we walked to the park, we walked to library, we walked to the grocery store. You get the point. We lived in a highly walkable neighborhood, and walking was a way to get outside, get exercise, and do errands in one easy transaction. It was all so incredibly simple and efficient.

Now, we get in the car to do all of those things. We get in the car to drive to the gym, to drive to the coffee shop, the grocery store, the library, the park. Every so often, we will drive past the rare little stretch of randomly placed sidewalk, and E will ask to get out and walk on the sidewalk. This breaks my heart, because the sidewalk is symbolic of all we left behind to come here. The lifestyle we left behind is one that I know he would enjoy and be enriched by, and I can't help but feel that he is missing out because we live here.

E has shown an aptitude for art, and I've been looking for an art class unsuccessfully for quite a while now, whereas I know that if we still lived in our old city, finding an art class for him would not have been a problem. The nearest museums are all one to two hours away, and places like Whole Foods are now an exciting destination rather than an everyday errand.

In many ways, our life here is blessed, and I see my family becoming more and more comfortable as we grow more used to the limits of this small town. Yet that is what worries me. My husband and I know there is more to the world than this small town, but if we stay here too long, our son will not, and someday soon, he will no longer ask to walk on the sidewalks.

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