I admit it. I used to judge people that lived in the suburbs. Who wouldn’t? I was a twenty something living in Chicago. I had no kids, no car and no utilities coupled with cheap rent and a resilient liver. My biggest worry was catching the next train or if my music was too loud. I could walk out the front door of my apartment building to endless opportunities for entertainment, food and friends. When I thought about the suburbs, I would shiver as the theme song from Weeds would start coursing through my veins. It was all very vanilla. And that was not the flavor I was seeking as a twenty something. And yet, despite all of my judgment, I moved to the suburbs.
When I compare the city to the suburbs, there are pros and cons to both. But what gets me the most (and makes me laugh) are the things I find myself worrying about. They are the very things I used to judge – the vanilla life of worrying about the neighbor’s trash cans being strewn about their driveway. I look forward to Tom getting home at night so that I can ask him in disbelief, as I do every Tuesday, “Did you see their cans? They are everywhere and there are so many!”
It’s a different life I lead – one that brings a lot of joy and ridiculous worries.
I am obsessed with my neighbors. I’m convinced they are all vampires and only come out at night. On the rare occasion I do see one, I’m not sure what to do so I do what most normal people do – I give a single wave and smile. Except mine is with way too much enthusiasm and reeks of desperation. I want to meet neighbors. It would be great to have friends in the neighborhood but I worry that’s never going to happen. The other day I was coming home from work and saw my neighbor Ed in his driveway. He’s the only neighbor’s name I know and that’s only because Tom told me. My wave lasted too long; and my smile turned into an “Oh shit” because I was so busy looking in his direction that I missed the driveway! I was mortified.
I asked Tom that night, “Do you think he noticed? I felt I came off as desperate.”
Who knew I would ever pay so much attention to trash? We have one neighbor whose trash always ends up in our yard. It comes in all sorts of variations – shredded paper, dirty diapers, pizza boxes, deflated balls. You name it, it’s in our yard. I know this may seem extreme but I worry Sam will eat it and die. A dog eating an old, rotten diaper cannot have a good outcome.
In addition to them sharing their trash, their cans are always strewn about on trash day. This is not something that worries me. It just gets on my nerves.
Believe it or not, I eat a lot more fast food now that I own a car. I also walk a lot less now that I own a car. I also turned thirty. I worry I’m going to get fat and succumb to mom jeans.
I’ve joined a gym.
I have never owned a house. I still don’t but Tom does. And if we’re ever going to make it back to the city, we need the housing market to turn. It’s a worry I’ve never had until now. It makes me feel so grown up. It also gives me anxiety.
I used to tease my former carpool buddy (he had the car, I didn’t) for knowing the changes in the gas prices. My response was always, “Who cares? It’s just $4.50 a gallon.”
Well as it turns out, I do. Now, I worry it’s never going to stop increasing. This one may not seem ridiculous but I have zero control over it – so I shouldn’t be thinking about it.
Ridiculous worries are just that – ridiculous. They are merely thoughts that keep my mind entertained during my twenty-five minute commute. Oh, I forgot to mention that? My commute has been cut by an hour each way. That is one worry I don’t have in the suburbs.
Life is good.