You moved to the suburbs for a reason. You didn’t go there naively. You knew it would be different. It was clear from the start that you would trading your innovative restaurants, exciting nightlife, and cool cultural attractions for more space and, well, mostly the extra space.
But there are other things you may not see coming. I am here to warn you about the rude awakenings you’ll experience when you leave city living for the burbs.
Some streets don’t have sidewalks
So we’re walking to Trader Joe’s (because we’re still holding out on buying a car), enjoying the springlike weather and sunshine when all of a sudden, we cross the street and boom: no sidewalk. The lawns go right up to the street with no friendly path to guide our way.
How does this happen? How do you build an entire neighborhood of houses and not include a strip of concrete where people can walk without getting hit by a car? What is happening in these sidewalk-less neighborhoods? Do the kids just never visit one another? Do you walk in the street or on people’s lawns? Regardless, I feel like we’re taking our life in our hands.
It’s a driver’s world and pedestrians had better watch their butts
The mysterious disappearance of sidewalks is just the first sign that you have no business walking around in public. There’s a new world order out here, and we pedestrians are no longer in charge.
In the city, there are so many people walking everywhere the cars have to drive more slowly and carefully. We vastly outnumber drivers, but not so in the suburbs. Drivers don’t expect to see people using their legs to get places. You are a novelty, with your “I’ll just walk the five blocks to the movie theater.” And you’d better be aware of drivers’ unawareness of you or you’ll get mowed down, fast.
It’s nothing personal. It’s just that drivers are totally not expecting you to be out there. You’re like deer to them. They’re driving along and all of a sudden, OMG, person! What the hell is she doing out here, trying to cross the street? Doesn’t she know? It’s a STREET.
You will get lost in the supermarket
They’re huge here. They carry everything, and yet you can’t find anything, partly because you’re spending a half-hour in front of the vast pasta aisle unable to make a choice. Grocery shopping in the suburbs becomes a huge time suck, because you have to cover so much ground to find anything and there are way too many distractions.
Where are the green onions? Hey, look, fresh guava! Why can’t I find coconut oil anywhere? Oooh, a whole shelf of Sriracha!
The mall will suck you in and make you its own
Enjoy your limited days of being “too cool” for mall shopping, because it’s only a matter of time before you have to replace a broken wine glass. Or you’re just curious and want to indulge in a totally self-conscious ironic afternoon at the mall, as in, “haha, let’s do the mall today, stroll under the artificial lighting, and see what’s 40% off at Banana Republic.” (Answer: everything.) Because the trajectory beam of the mall will draw you in, sooner or later. And you’ll kind of like it, because all the stores are there and you have your Godiva right across from your Teavana. And then you’ll hate yourself for liking it. But you’ll go anyway, again and again. Who are you, anymore? Shh, shh, baby. It’s all right. There’s a sale on hurricane lamps at Crate & Barrel.
People are so gosh darn nice all the time
Prepare yourself for this, because it’s going to throw you the first few times and you won’t even know how to respond: The people in your neighborhood may be nice. Like, sincerely friendly and helpful. The office staff at the doctor’s office. The shopkeepers. People who have no business being so nice. What is with all the smiling and hopes that I have a good experience in the waiting room?
Don’t worry, you’ll adjust to this culture shock. Just surrender to it all. Stop worrying and learn to love the mall, the huge supermarkets, the kindness. Just be really careful crossing the street, OK? All that niceness ends once people get behind the wheel.