Sweet Suburbia

Parties, lemon trees, backyard picnics

One of my best friends (we’ll call her T) moved from her East Coast fifth floor walkup in Manhattan to a four-bedroom house in a West Coast suburb. Although she was not forced into the change, she complained about it for years.  Today, she’s more to likely boast about the meals she creates with fresh lemons from her backyard trees than she is to mourn her old apartment with the shower in the kitchen (yes, really).  But every now and again, she peers over the top of her margarita glass and says, “How did this happen to me? Of all people, this wasn’t supposed to happen to me.”

By “this,” she means the whole suburbia thing. It’s just not as sexy as a 250-square-foot apartment smack in the center of the East Village, surrounded by all things (and people) hip and cool at all times.

But when it comes to parties, brunches, and other get-togethers, her sprawling suburban house is where the rest of us want to be.  I mean, please, her NYC apartment had two bring-em-out-when-you-need-em TV trays, hardly conducive to the traditional Japanese New Year brunch for ten that she now hosts annually.  Her summer barbecues are the stay-through-the-day-and-into-the-night kind where guests pig out around the picnic table in her lemon-scented back yard that’s illuminated with strands of white lights. Halloween at her house always means costumes, plenty o’drinks, and passing out candy to the cuties who come a’knocking.

 And there’s parking!

A two-car garage means a two-car driveway, plus more free parking in front of her neighbor’s houses.

So, space for my friend T’s parties are, in my mind, one of the pros of suburbia.  She agreed:

Pro: “Having all this space for sure is a definite pro. It’s nice not to feel cramped in your every day life.”

Con: “I miss being able to walk out my door and grab a coffee on the corner. Or really, anything I wanted. There were probably 100 restaurants within a two-block radius. Any cuisine, any atmosphere, any drink I wanted was just around the corner. Here, I just don’t have that.”

Pro: “It’s nice to be in a really clean, safe neighborhood. In the East Village, you’d walk out and see a bunch of heroin addicts. It got to be a bit much. The day I decided to leave New York, I had just come out of an acupuncture treatment, where I was subdued and relaxed. On my walk home, I felt assaulted by the noise, the pollution, the smells, the crazy people, cars honking. I just had enough of all that chaos.”

Oh, and one more pro:

“Outdoor space is a big deal. If we wanted to, we could have a naked Slip ’N Slide party in the backyard among the lemon trees.”

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Elizabeth Salaam
Along with her work as Senior Contributing Writer for Girl's Guide, Elizabeth Salaam writes for the San Diego Reader. Her work has also been published in Elle Magazine. | Most inspired by: Contradictions. | Favorite room in my home: The Master suite. The windows have views for days! | Best design idea I may never do: Adorn my enclosed toilet room with library book wallpaper and a chandelier. | Will never: Bungee jump. | Have always been: Rebellious. | Dying to: Live in a Paris flat with herringbone wood floors.
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