I live in what one acquaintance referred to as a “ridiculously cute town.” Another friend said it looked like a town from a Disney movie.
It is clean, safe, the schools are excellent, and there are many parks and greenbelts. We have an old fashioned downtown complete with parades featuring kids, dogs and a group of old men who don oversized pants and call themselves the Balloon Brigade.
The weather is damn near perfect and we can get to the beach, the mountains, wine country, rivers, and lakes within a few hours. We are surrounded by nature’s majestic beauty but we are also a mere 40 minutes by public transportation from San Francisco. They even play pleasant Muzak at the gas station. So given all the wonderment that my town offers, I can’t help but wonder why I feel that I am slowly losing my mind living in one of the most pleasant places on Earth?
Loads of people assure me on a regular basis that “this is the best place to live.” They tell me that they do not wish to ever live anywhere else and hope to live here until they die.
I sigh, bite the inside of my cheek, and quiet the voice in my head that wonders why I don’t feel the same way.
I realized that I was losing my mind because suburban bliss was depleting my gypsy sense of adventure. I agree that our town offers many wonderful benefits, but I don’t share the majority view that this is to be my final town, my end of days. My gypsy spirit is waning under the reality of working full time, raising 2 kids and being a wife. While my life is very enjoyable, I am missing the energy that exploration has always provided me. I need to fuel my curiosity.
Living in a perfect place also makes me feel a bit guilty. I feel guilty that I am restless when I have so much. Stronger than the guilt, though, is the belief that I want more than the trappings of perfection for my children’s lives. I want my children to know that the world is made up of countless amazing places, cultures, people, art, food. I want them to see and experience the underbelly of life – the poverty, trash and homelessness that one sees in a city – because if they never see these things, they will not know that these things are problems that our world faces. If they don’t see these things, they will not know humanity and how to face a problem head on. If they don’t see these things, they may not learn compassion. If they don’t see that their suburban world is an anomaly and that most people do not live as they do, then they may not appreciate their own good fortune. I want my children to learn that you don’t have to be afraid of someone or some culture or some religion that is different than theirs. I want them to be citizens of the world.
I have been pacing my island of suburban perfection for months. I think it is time for a swim.