Friday, May 10, 2013

My Suburb

Rod Dreher, for the first time I can remember since Birkenstocked Burkeans: Confessions of a granola conservative more than a decade ago, writes something I can almost read and halfway agree with — Reconsidering Suburbia. Mr. Dreher's article starts by quoting the Acton Institute's Anthony Bradley, who notes, "For too many Millennials their greatest fear in this life is being an ordinary person with a non-glamorous job, living in the suburbs, and having nothing spectacular to boast about."

Good for them, I say. As a Generation Xer, I find the Generation Y cohort to be wonderful people, superior to my demographic in many ways, one being musical taste. I'm delighted by the millennial women I know from work, and find them far more feminine than the women from my era. And Mr. Dreher's article introduced me to the "movement among younger Evangelicals to reject suburban life," which seems a good thing.

Mr. Dreher's article, however, is a defense of suburban life, which may be now counter-counter-counter-cultural, or something like that. It's at least contrarian. He writes, "For a certain kind of Christian — people like me, to be blunt — the idea of living an 'ordinary' life (= the life of a middle-class suburbanite) seems unattractive, at least on the surface," and wisely continues, "That could well be a sign that this is precisely the kind of life that we need for our own salvation."

My non-nuclear family has six people, two each from three different generations. We had to consider all of our needs and tastes when settling on a house to choose, and mine was the sole vote for a cabin in the woods surrounded by barbed wire. So we live in a suburb, one that was even mildly dissed by name by my hero Bill Kauffman in Bill Kauffman in his delightful Dispatches from the Muckdog Gazette: A Mostly Affectionate Account of a Small Town's Fight to Survive, calling it "tony," a word I would never use, but which I found out means "marked by an aristocratic or high-toned manner or style." I kinda like that.

We live in one of the less tony areas, I should say, a stone's throw away from the decidedly working-class East Rochester, NY, which is our spiritual home, as it is where the largely eyetie (another word I learned from Mr. Kauffman) St. Jerome Parish, to which we belong and where our kids just firstly communed, is located. The house we live in was built fifty years ago, half as old as the oldest house I've ever lived in, but that's not too young. The trees are the right height, which the loser in the last presidential election was wrongly condemned for rightly noticing. Even more important, there are lots of kids in the neighborhood. My Weggies is within walking distance.

People know each other in our neighborhood and even if we don't, we still wave to each other when we drive or walk by. People don't sit on the front porches mostly because they don't have one. We do, small though it is, and I can be found there with the missus, my banjo, and a beer. This is a good place to live.

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