At some point in the last week I saw something that made me think, as I do on occasion, how nice it would be to be pursuing the suburban dream here in America. My wife and I could [in theory] be fairly successful [financially] if we chose to go that route. We both possess degrees in halfway decent paying fields that we have not pursued as avidly as we could have, even though both of us are still using those skills in our work presently. We could be living on the right side of the tracks if we wanted to be.
We chose instead, just after graduating, to serve in mission mobilization with Mission Data International, which we’re still doing. So from the get go we had to raise money for my own fairly frugal salary. My wife became editing manager of our small town newspaper while we raised support, but she quit as we had planned when my student loans were paid off.
I don’t remember exactly what triggered the desire to seek out suburbia this week. It may have been seeing that happy family driving down the road in their newer car, combined with the chaos of moving into a very small house in neighborhood I don’t know anything about.
And now I’m wondering — not for the first time — now I’m asking the question “What is the appeal of suburbia?” Is it merely social pressure or is there more to it? Could it be there is something about the suburban space that hearkens to our subconscious? Is there something in us as humans that yearns for more open spaces (Yes, I know I’m posting this just after suggesting I miss downtown living.)? In recent years I’ve become a little less of a critic of the American suburbs, realizing we can’t just summarily do away with them and wondering, as already stated, if they came into being and proliferated with some substance beyond the greed of speculative developers.
My wife and I certainly have our reasons for intentionally standing outside of the typical pursuit of American suburbia, keyword here being pursuit. Our own interests, passions, point our time and efforts towards ends that, while still personal, attempt to look beyond our own comfort. We hope to be a counterculture for the common good. While this can be done — and should be done by people who feel called to it — in the context of the suburbs, it’s not where we’re at.
As an aside, another aspect of this week’s enigmatic desire to have a suburban life — which the wife very accurately pointed out has enough problems of its own since it’s also populated by people — might a sense of isolation I’ve had over the past few months. Working a more or less full time job away from the computer (along with still working my part-time M-DAT job mobilizing, breaking in a puppy and moving) has taken more getting used to than I expected. I miss blogging, being able to read blogs, being able to read substantial articles on the arts or theology during the week. I’m not a news junky by any stretch of the imagination, but I was disappointed to learn just this morning (in an email from M-DAT HQ) that there was a volcano disrupting air travel for mission trips. We also miss our network of artistically inclined friends back in Northwest Arkansas.
How any of this relates to a desire for a suburban life, which is typically associated with isolation itself, I don’t know. But my mind seems to want to make some kind of connection to it at the moment.