Marriage Mondays Tuesday: The Suburbs

Hi there! I'm trying to find out what works best here on Not the Marrying Kind, and I'd really like your help. I've created a short survey in order to get some feedback on what goes on with my wee small blog. I have a lot of lurkers that visit, seemingly consistently, but are silent observers. I respect silence on blogs, but if you could please break your silence in a completely anonymous way and let me know what you think of some stuff around this, here stretch of the internet, that would be oh, so wonderful! You can access the survey here and it will be up until July 15th. I will probably remind you about this on a daily basis, so please don't get mad at me, k? (PS. A.P. told me that nobody would fill out my survey. Help me prove him, and all men, wrong by sticking it to him. Seriously. Go here.) And thank you to those that have already filled it out! Your feedback is very helpful!

Yesterday was the 4th of July here in the U.S. of A., and A.P. had the day off (I'm still on vacation). So, I hope you'll forgive me for taking a day off, but we needed to spend the time together. Really, we just lounged around and did nothing, until A.P. went on a cleaning fit and I took a nap. (I've got to stop doing that. Seriously. It's making him angry. Like beastly angry.)

Other than that, we had a nice weekend. We were hoping for adventure, but we settled for relaxation and doing a whole lotta nothing. We did stuff around the house and on the computer, and also trekked out to the suburbs for a barbecue. Some friends of ours recently bought a house and had a housewarming/pre-4th barbecue. It was a lot of fun, and nice to see their home and baby. We were definitely the odd ones out, since most everyone lived in the suburbs. It made me consider expectations of married couples of a childbearing age who aren't in rock and roll bands or living some sort of "alternate lifestyle". It seemed like most of the people we met grew up in the suburbs, lived in the city for a hot minute, and then moved back when they got married or started a family. And it got me thinking about what people do. You know, that standard by which everyone judges everyone else. Like, look at those city weirdos. They're weird because they didn't do what everyone else did (i.e. move to the suburbs five minutes after giving birth, if not ten minutes before).

It so happens that recently a blogger whose blog I read moved into her first home. On her blog, she told the cute story of how they found their home. When I went to go make a comment to congratulate her, I skimmed some of the other comments, as I always do, and saw one woman's response, which read something along the lines of, "You'll be happy you did this when you have kids and they start going to school. The city is fine when you're young, but when you have kids, you need to be where crime is low and you can be a part of a community. You can always go back to the city when the kids leave home." You see, the blogger had moved to the suburbs. That elusive destination one of my favorite bands paid homage to with their most recent album.

Here's the thing: I don't have a problem with the suburbs. God. That's a lie. I do. I really do. I try not to, but I do. I get why people move there: space, bigger homes for less money, lower crime, "better" schools, etc. But going to the suburbs makes me feel, to borrow another blogger's terminology, very stabby. And that comment made me feel really stabby because I grew up in the city, I live in the city, and if, God willing, we are able to, we will buy a home in this city. Gasp! That's right! That means I'll be raising my children in the city. I know what you're thinking. They're going to end up in a gang. And you are totally right. They will. And we have made our peace with that.

Gang membership aside, though, we love living in the city, even if we don't take full advantage like we used to. We love to discover strange, little restaurants, and we eat "weird" (to borrow a phrase from a family member of A.P.) food all the time. We like to eat Indian, Thai, Mexican (real Mexican, not Chipotle), and Middle Eastern on a regular basis. These are normal parts of our diet. In fact, we had three out of four of those in the last two weeks. We also like to do cool things in the city, like go to the theater, go to concerts, see comedy shows, and go to museums, parks, and even, on occasion, the zoo. Plus, we discover new things to do all the time.

Seriously, though, I feel the need to defend the city here a bit. I know it's kind of strange that I was born and raised in the city, in a three bedroom condo. But I always look back on my childhood as one long endless museum hideout. I grew up playing in the giant park across the street and yelling down to the Mexican ice cream man from the window (we may have been a little ghetto) so that we could run down to buy coconut, mango, and strawberry popsicles (the best flavors, duh). When I was a kid, after school on Fridays, my friend and I would go play in the Chicago Historical Society, a museum in Old Town. Other days, we would go downtown and shop among the skyscrapers. I had my 8th grade graduation luncheon at the Signature Room on the 95th floor in the John Hancock building, my sweet 16 birthday party at a famous bar, and my prom in the halls of a beautiful museum.

I started taking the bus alone when I was seven years old, though I didn't take the train until I was much older (high school/college). I knew how to get around the city by car, train, and bus. I knew how to bike in a busy street without getting hit by a car (something A.P. is still too scared to do with me) by the time I was in high school, though I perfected this in my 20's when I bought my first grownup bike. I also was street smart early on in life, though I was still raised with manners. I'm not rude or cold-hearted like the city girl stereotype would have you think, just cynical and angry that there are other people in the world.

And though A.P. didn't grow up in the city, he did make the conscious decision to live in the city as an adult. And I think every trip back to Florida or to the suburbs reinforces his choice to live in the city. We also both prefer the urban landscape, even if that means not everyone's lawns are manicured, and you get your fruit from a corner fruit market or a neighborhood Polish store instead of a giant commercial grocery store. It's nice to go to a friend's suburban home for an afternoon and play some games in the yard and hang, but it's nicer to come home to our third-floor apartment with no yard.

In all seriousness, though, we love the city, and we can't imagine raising our children anywhere else. As much as it breaks my heart that Chicago has gotten so expensive that I can't even afford a house in the neighborhood I grew up in, we are still aiming to break the rules and do not what everyone does, but what we want to do, which is to live in the city, and raise children in the city. And I suppose that means raising another generation of weirdos who eat weird food and learned how to ride public transportation at a young age (though I think I'll wait until they're 10). Secretly, we're just hoping that our gang member children will become rich drug dealers so that we can retire early. This saving a little every month is for the birds!

What rule that everyone else does are you breaking?


  1. we just moved into a suburb from the city of kiev, ukraine. honestly, i loved raising our son in a big city, but i also love the perks of living just outside of it.

    you're a great writer!

  2. @s + b: Thanks for the kind words! I don't have a problem with people choosing to live in the suburbs at all. I just don't like that people make you feel like a freak if you don't choose that lifestyle. I'm so glad you're loving your life now! I bet your son loves being able to run around, too. I do worry about that. The perk of where I grew up was that I was right across the street from a giant stretch of park, so I could go run and plan quite easily. I definitely want that for our kids in some capacity. I also love the country (not the suburbs) just as much as I love the city. When I was a kid, I would spend large chunks of the year in a small town in the middle of nowhere where my grandmother lived. I hope that one day we can possibly afford a house outside of the city so that our children can enjoy both sides of the divide. : O )

  3. Duuuuude. We are so on the same wave-length. I was just thinking over the weekend that I needed to write about my experience of living in the suburbs since Dude and I bought our house last year, because it is not at all consistent with what people expect of suburban life.

    Also: totally love Arcade Fire.

  4. This is so true... I find it really dramatic in London, where we currently live. It's like everyone is always implying that living in London is all fine and good for when you're young (which we're not really, at 32 and 38) but when you become a 'real' person you move out not just to the 'burbs but possibly to some sort of english village or market town in the commuter belt. I HATE this. I grew up in berkeley which isn't really suburbs and isn't really city, but has a very cosmopolitan mentality.

    My friend's kids in the 'burbs/villages are sort of insular on a lot of levels, especially about diversity... I really don't want that for my kids at all, and city kids were always the coolest at my summer camp! Also, I don't really want that for us either, I wouldn't want to feel like the only lefty foreigner in the village...

  5. people i know who grew up in manhattan are the coolest people i know. that being said....
    i am sooo on the same page not into the burbs and like the city. BUT now that i have a kid it's like all bets are off when it comes to him being safe and comfortable. i like to think we found a really good compromise where we live. feels a little country but the city is very close. 5 mins close.

  6. @lettuce: I'm starting to think that suburban life outside of Chicago is different than others. I've had this convo with some others now and it seems like what people are telling me doesn't represent what suburbs are like here. The thing is, I don't care that people live in the suburbs. And my friend living in the suburbs is fine with me, but I just hate getting treated like a weirdo for choosing to live in the city with kids.

    @alicialorna: Perhaps London is similar to Chicago and the way things are here? Because what you're describing sounds like my experience. And diversity is a HUGE thing on my list. Everyone at that party we went to was white with the exception of one guy who might have been Hispanic. Our parties and even our wedding was so diverse! My best friends are a huge mix of cultures and ethnicities. Being biracial, it's important to me that our children are exposed to lots of people and lots of cultures, and that doesn't always exist in the suburbs of Chicago.

    @mimi: I think where you live is more country than suburban, but you are still close to the city. Suburbs in the midwest, are, I'm beginning to think, the pits. I get the safety/comfort thing with kids. However, here, there are also issues in the suburbs that I think are, in some ways, worse. Gangs are just as bad in the suburbs now as they are in the city. I sometimes think if I lived somewhere else, I wouldn't think the way I do about the suburbs. There's something about Chicago...

  7. TOTALLY with you on this. Besides, being in a gang will probably teach your kids good lessons about teamwork and cooperation!

  8. @Novice: YES! Finally someone who gets it! : )


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