I’m always been fascinated by the different kind of lives, between big city and small towns/suburbs, so typical of American living. Each one offers different perspective of life. The first maybe more ideal for young people; the second for those who want to build a family aways from city chaos.
I talked briefly about this with Mark Chekares, who lives in Boston area. You can find him on Chowder and Champions, where he write about Boston sport, or listen his Red Sox podcast Loaded on Lansdowne, which you can find on iTunes, Spotify or his YouTube channel.
Question: You grew up in a suburb? And if so, what are your first thoughts or memories about that kind of life as a child?
Answer: I grew up in Westport, Massachusetts which is more like a small coastal town than a suburb, but I’ve also lived in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts and Mesa, Arizona when I was in my 20s.
Both places were definely suburban. Shopping malls, chain restaurants, supermarkets… people walking dogs or jogging. Definitely not a city vibe with small independently owned restaurants and shops. Suburbia is very corporate. Gaps, and Chili’s, and Jo-Anne Fabrics stores.
Question: Do you think that growing up in Massachusetts gave you a more clear view of the American living and way of life?
Answer: We used to ride our bikes to school on nice days and to the baseball fields to play games. After little league games we’d hop in the back of my fathers pickup truck and go to a local creamery to get ice cream. (Can’t do that anymore! ahah).
Question: Choosing between life in the downtown and life in the suburbs, what you would choose, and why?
Answer: I think every young person needs to try life in downtown. It’s exciting, even now in middle age. But as I’ve gotten older I would choose the suburbs for sure. Actually, as I’ve gotten older, I’d choose a cabin in the woods like Thoreau if I could.
Question: What are the good things and the bad things of living in a suburb? Also, do you think there is a more sense of community there?
Answer: Actually, I don’t think there is a bigger sense of community there at all. Perhaps in the past that was the case, but with advent of smart phones and such I’ve witnessed far more community in distinct neighborhoods in larger cities.
I lived in Brighton, Massachusetts which is technically a neighborhood of Boston, and there was far more community than I discovered in the suburbs of nearby Chestnut Hill or my time in Mesa, AZ.
A lot of the young people knew each other and we would go over to each others’ apartments to watch games and even have some dinners. Lots of Irish immigrants in Brighton, so that European cafe/pub culture of neighborhood community definitely shone through.
Question: I know that there are still things like lemonade stands, garage sales in the suburbs. You have something to tell me about it? They are the reality where you live?
Answer: Yes, yard sales and lemonade stands are common for sure (yard sales more than lemonade stands to be honest), but the other thing that’s cool over here is there have been a lot of farm house breweries opening up in the middle of the suburbs and also actual country towns tucked away in the middle of nowhere. That’s the latest trend.