For those of you who don’t know, I live in Denver and have become accustomed to a certain way of city life. When I decided to live there it was a bit of an odd choice as I am somewhat of a homebody and a touch on the introverted side but I liked the conveniences of being able to walk everywhere. It does get crowded, though, which is why I spend so much of my time hiking in the wilderness around Colorado and other states. I feel just as comfortable in those remote areas and the small towns that surround them as I do in the hectic downtown areas. However, nothing prepared me for my week of pet sitting and living in…The Burbs.
While many people my age have spent a lot of time in the burbs it hasn’t really been a fit for me yet. I know eventually I will probably move out to some hamlet and compare ground cover with my neighbors but I just haven’t made that leap yet. Here are the things that I have noticed that I wasn’t expecting.
First of all I have been here for almost two whole days now and not a single neighbor lady has shown up with a casserole to welcome me to the neighborhood. From watching the occasional 1960’s era sitcom, I fully expected a line of neighborhood ladies to have sniffed out new blood and shown up in sundresses holding a Pyrex full of tuna surprise. Phrases like “Oh this old thing” and “I was just walking by and noticed you are new here” were expected. Well none of that happened so I have to think that either television lied to me, or the Keto diet has ruined the casserole game.
We are all Neighbors
The next thing I noticed, and this might be the scariest of all, is eye contact and communication. Living in the city you learn to avoid eye contact to a certain degree. On the first morning of taking the Angel/Demon dog I am watching around the block I had three complete strangers look me dead in the eye and say good morning. What kind of psycho behavior is that! Are people really this nice out where grass grows instead of concrete? I didn’t even see a single person begging for money! It was so confusing. I think people in the city never grow past stranger danger while in the suburbs everyone just becomes a neighbor.
Blowing Stuff Up
Now living in the city I am accustomed to a certain level of noise. Crowds leaving baseball games, sirens, trains, gunshots are all pretty common. We even have very professionally done fireworks shows that people come from miles around to see. I thought that was all pretty normal. Then I spent my time in the “quiet” suburbs around the 4th of July. I am ninety percent sure the neighbors, some of who waved at me just this morning, are trying to launch this entire place into orbit. I have never seen so many fireworks. When I was growing up we could get our hands on some bottle rockets, roman candles, and sparklers. These people are sending professional grade mortars just high enough to scrape the roofs of the two story colonials.
The show put on by the neighbor down the cul-de-sac holding a beer in one hand and a Bic in the other rivaled anything that was put on by the Denver events committee. I think the only difference was that in the city, the celebrations are held on specific times and places while in the suburbs a Tuesday in July is close enough to the 4th to send screaming sirens of gun-powdered goodness into the sky.
Drive like your kids live here
Driving through the city takes a certain amount of aggression. There are a ton of cars jockeying in and out and narrow city streets and one way roads lead to bottle necks and frustration. You also have to have a certain amount of tenacity to walk on city streets. Dodging cars, bikes and scooters makes just walking to the store feel like a game of Frogger.
So when I get to the burbs I know that there are going to be kids out playing and usually try to keep my speeds to 19 in a 25. My worst fear is having a kid fly out into the street as I’m cruising through a neighborhood. I take that back, my worst fear is coming upon a bear and a mountain lion who are both wearing bibs and holding knives and forks and eyeing me while I walk by, but the kid thing is up there.
So as I am gently stomping the brakes because my cars idle feels like the Indy 500 through streets invariably named Inverness or Stagecoach it blows my mind to see the people who live in the same neighborhood going about 65 and taking speed bumps and traffic circles like they are at on off road rally. I feel safer walking the streets of a city at midnight on a Friday than I do taking the dog for a walk at 8 am on Tuesday in the burbs.
I guess it breaks down in a couple of ways for me. Whatever you don’t know is foreign. People who live twenty miles from downtown may be extremely nervous when the make it to the big bad city. On the other hand, people like me who live in the city have a spike in anxiety when they make it to the gentle quiet burbs.
For me there is safety in the chaos of the city and in the order of small towns and the wilderness. It is the organized chaos of the manicured lawns with firework wrappers on them that gives me pause. The constant noise of the city and the lack of noise in the woods makes sense. I can’t wrap my head around the loud quiet of the burbs.
Now don’t get me wrong. The burbs have so much to offer. There is a built in community feel. You don’t have to lock up your doors. A kid named Graphite (kid names today is another blog for another day) can leave a bike on the front lawn and it will be there in the morning. They have the best fast food and craft stores in every strip mall. And most importantly, a lot of people in the burbs read my blog. I guess in the end the key is to find your own comfort on the chaos scale. The grass isn’t always greener on the other side, sometimes it is just concrete.
More from the Fatman
If you enjoyed this post you may enjoy more of the posts on my Fatman’s Rambling page. Blogs such as “Hiking Alone not Lonely Hiking“, “Winslow, Arizona” and “Screw it, I’m Trying” as well as many others may interest you there. If you have any comments or topics you would like me to cover, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or you can keep the conversation going by following me on any of the below social media platforms.