Sunday, May 25, 2014

hey suburbia, we're in love with you.

(image credit: Robert Adams)

This isn't what I intended to post about today.  I actually thought today might be the day I sketch out an editorial calendar for the first time in over ten years of blogging.  I have all these post ideas- I want to tell you about our new living room, about things we're writing/eating/playing/reading, about the way I feel about Frozen, and about the way I'm building my village while confronting the sadness of living so far away from so much of my family.  I'm supposed to get directly off the computer and do a laundry folding blitz, because I think it's the most productive thing I could possibly do with a double nap time (currently happening for the first time in months) and I know I'll feel SO DAMN GOOD when it's all put away.

But I think the truth, above, that folded laundry would make me feel like a rock star right now, is exactly what I've been mentally confronting all day.  Ben is spending time today working on a movie, and visiting with friends from college.  These friends (and others like them) live very different lives than we do.  They travel for work and pleasure, create and enjoy art, make last minute plans, start socializing for the night at 11pm.  It's a foreign culture, and not necessarily one that I covet.  Still, every now and then, those kinds of lives get pushed up against mine for a moment in time and I wonder "Am I too boring?  Are we too stodgy?  Is it okay that I really don't feel comfortable inviting people over without 24 hours notice?  AM I WRONG IS THIS WRONG SHOULD I BE SHOOTING HIGHER AIMING FOR MORE?"  It can get frantic pretty quickly.

I used to want to live in a tourist town in an apartment over a shop.  I would feel the urge whenever I was somewhere charming- Newburyport, Gloucester, Northhampton, Burlington.  I thought about the vintage curtains I would hang and the way I would head downstairs and into a little organic cafe for my coffee every morning.  I used to want to live on a working farm.  I wanted to grow all my food and have chickens and milk cows and sew my clothes using feed sacks and repurposed cloth from thrift store clothes.  I used to want to live in a big city.  I would visit my sister and dream about living steps from a T stop, meeting friends in little bars and having my nightly jog take place on the Charles.  None of these things were actually long-term dreams, just reactions I would have when confronted with different lifestyles, whether I was reading or visiting or passing through.  I can't sew and I couldn't live without a car and access to a Target.

My mom told me once that she thought I was going to be the daughter who took off and never looked back.  I was always independent, working from age 14, and I have almost zero family memories from my high school years- I was usually gone.  I picked teaching because I was good with kids during after school jobs, and I picked Fitchburg State because someone told me that's where teachers go.  I only applied to one college, and never entered into any conversations about why, or why not.  At Fitchburg (which I loved- those are years I still mourn for), I usually took the path of least resistance, got through my classes by doing a bare minimum, did as much theater as I could let people include me in, and fell deeply for Ben, at first because he was older, then because my mom didn't approve (read: older), and then because he was patient with me, and we had a home together, and then we got engaged, and it was all reactionary for both of us from there.

What we have now is fire-tested and weathered with age.  In October, it will be ten years since our first kiss.  I have no memory of adult life that doesn't include him.  Ben saw me through student teaching and watched while working in schools went through all the stages it goes through- "I am terrible at this," then, "I'm getting better at this," then, "I hate this," then, "I might stick with this."  He waited while I went through a "going out" phase that he had no interest in.  We bought and fixed up a house, had kids, traded in cars and secured an eye doctor, an insurance agent, a plumber.  We are deeply entrenched in a suburban life.  Yard sales, swimming lessons, trying to eat more greens, evening walks in our neighborhood, and battling the lawn.  We never stopped and asked each other if this was our end goal.  We just went along with whatever was happening.  And here we are.

I don't think it's bad.  I like going to the park, scoring deals on kids clothes, and getting frozen yogurt for a treat.  I'm okay with never being out of my house after 8pm and falling asleep in front of the TV every single night.  I don't like live music, and Ben isn't into restaurant meals.  We don't have family close and babysitters + daycare is wildly expensive, so staying home is a natural choice, and it usually feels right.  I understand that a house, a career, a sweet husband, and two healthy, hilarious boys is a GIFT, something I barely deserve, and it leaves me no real room for philosophical musing.  This is a good life.

I'm not sure there is a conclusion to this post.  It's a wondering out loud, and there's no final paragraph that can answer the questions.  I'm curious what you think.  Have you had very structured plans along the way?  Have you gone with the flow?  Are you happy where you are?  Do you think it's too self-important to have these thoughts at all?  I wonder where you stand.  I have a feeling that no matter where I am, as long as I keep wondering, I'll be fine.

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At May 25, 2014 at 3:36 PM , Blogger Becky Goerend said...

I feel like I'm in the same boat you are. I met my husband when I was 20 and now I'm 30. We live in suburbia, too, and sometimes I wonder about how life would be different if we'd decided to move to AZ or he hadn't decided to go back to school for teaching. Now we're in such good teaching jobs in a district that is booming that it would be stupid of us to venture elsewhere. We are happy where we are, but that wonder about something different creeps in occasionally. I think wondering is a good thing. It helps me verify over again that we're doing what's right for us.

At May 25, 2014 at 5:54 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think everyone wonders the "what if" questions. Andrew and I have been together for 10ish years and are only now getting married this October. I wonder all the time if my life would be better / different / worse / with children had we been married earlier in life. We live in a small apartment that we pay big bucks for in the city and go to shows and we work for cool cultural organizations, but I visit my friends and my parents in the suburbs and I long for sky and grass and trees. One of my favorite quotes is "Live the life you love and love the life you live".


At May 26, 2014 at 9:57 PM , Anonymous Kelly Hanley said...

Just so you know. The wondering never stops. It's the sign of healthy mind. <3

At May 27, 2014 at 6:43 PM , Anonymous Stephanie, Sandpaper and Glue said...

I was all over the place for years, trying to find what stuck & fit... matt & I were best friends for years & when we finally realized we were in love it was like my whole life just breathed a sigh of relief. I want to spend my days fixing up my house and my nights with my man and my pets... I didn't know it was everything I wanted until I was smack in the middle of it! :)

At May 28, 2014 at 5:51 AM , Blogger ashlie said...

I agree that the wondering is long as I don't let it overtake me :)

At May 28, 2014 at 5:51 AM , Blogger ashlie said...

I love looking at the perspective from the other side, thanks, Care.

At May 28, 2014 at 5:52 AM , Blogger ashlie said...

Mama. <3

At May 28, 2014 at 5:52 AM , Blogger ashlie said...

That is so romantic, and I'm so happy that you're comfy in your fit!

At June 2, 2014 at 11:30 PM , Blogger Unknown said...

Kudos to the Screeching Weasel lyric!

At June 7, 2014 at 5:59 AM , Blogger ashlie said...

That's for you.


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