I just returned from a weekend visit of my hometown, and the memories came flooding back. Growing up in Central Wisconsin often felt like living life in a fishbowl. There wasn’t a dirt road my buddies and I could drink on without word spreading to our parents as soon as we parked the Jeep. So instead, I used to spend countless high school nights cruising Central Avenue with buddies named Louie, Beags, Coop, Sarge, Wally, Wisk and Bar (don’t ask), dreaming of a future living in a downtown high-rise condo in a thrilling metropolis.
Like most of my dreams, it didn’t turn out exactly as I had planned. Consider the improbable five-year plan I sketched out after high school graduation . . .
1. Move to Minneapolis.
2. Meet Prince.
3. Drum for Prince.
4. File a lawsuit against Prince, settle out of court, and retire to a beach home (not in Minneapolis).
And now compare that to my current reality: married with three kids, working and living in a suburban St. Paul community, population: 13,069. So close, yet so far.
Despite my unrealized dream of a lively, anonymous metropolitan life, I’ve eventually adjusted to a much more subdued, if not surveyed existence in Suburbia instead. In fact, it’s come to suit me quite well – largely because I conducted a proper neighborhood inspection prior to moving in. If you’re like me, then your checklist should look the same:
- Garages filled to the rafters with multiple tool storage systems ready to serve as your own private(and free) rental center.
- Fences, tall hedges, or other visual barriers that conceal your botched backyard landscaping projects.
- Endless supplies of free firewood someone else cut and stored in the woods behind your house. (That’s communal, right?)
- Front porches decorated with enough wind chimes to effectively drown out your wife’s voice as she berates you from open windows during summer months.
If a neighborhood can offer any of those amenities, simply ask, would you be mine? Could you be mine? Won’t you be my neighborhood? Because people like us who have no right living among the grownups deserve a homebound haven where we can seek refuge from the adult responsibilities of the real world and do things our way—the wrong way.