In this suburb, every individual home stands with well-groomed yards. “Neat” and “cute” are usually the best terms for the exterior of the house, the arrangement of the yard, the choice of flowers. I can’t help but think that ornament – cosmetic – is directly from the Greek cosmos.
There are children everywhere, having their fill of fun and more. Suburbia is paradise if you’re a kid: plenty of rooms in some houses mean you get a playroom to yourself. A yard is entirely yours if you wish, but there’s a public playground complete with a basketball hoop and tennis court set up here. There are plenty of playmates in the neighborhood, each tended to by their own parents. Responsibility seems an alien concept until one is beyond college, perhaps, and even then.
The only times I see adults talk to each other here it’s over issues of home improvement or complaining about a third party, either a neighbor or the local government or something. I don’t see very many meeting and talking. It feels lonely going for walks around here – I wonder how people can coop themselves up in cubicles and then head straight to a few rooms.
I don’t want to say the city is less materialistic – most urban dwellers just have other things to spend their money on, like going out at night. And I don’t want to say the city is more adult: right now, it’s more like college for people who went to finer schools where their classmates had ambition and wanted to grow up in the only way they could conceive.
But I do need to say that the older question of city and country – while not comprehensive in itself – needs to be opened up again. This is ridiculous: barely anyone knows anyone else in this “neighborhood,” nor cares. They’ll meet for events – esp. kid’s activities – but I wonder if for most having a family means eliminating the friends. Time spent outside is time spent grooming one’s plot of land, as if one is tending to one’s own grave every day. This is emphatically not the good; it is a good, but it is probably also a very sheltered life. A parent was ranting to me about all the evils of college recently and telling me what a waste of money it was to send a kid away for a period of time to live with strangers. I replied that while I partly agreed with her sentiment, my opinion of that was changing: living with strangers is one of the most crucial aspects of life; it isn’t clear we have anything but each other. That we can set up walls around ourselves, make the walls look pretty, and call this a virtue is perhaps the ultimate sign of decadence.