Age and Acid Reflux Determine Your Ideal Location

I used to live your stupid life but then, magically, when I turned 29:

You move to the city and it’s so exciting. You meet such interesting
people. There are bars, clubs, the Manyunk bike races, regattas and
Boathouse Row. There’s the skyline at night, concerts and Fairmount
Park. The roaring subway, the rattling El. The cuisine from a thousand
lands, the cacophony of a million happy souls crammed into a few
downtown blocks on New Year’s Day.

Fine for a few years. Then you’re not 24 anymore. You’re pushing 30 and, without warning, you sour on city life.

Maybe it’s your second close call with a thug while you waited on a
subway platform on your way home from work. Maybe it’s the third time
your car is broken into. Maybe it’s growing weary of your roommate’s
girlfriend arriving on Friday and staying until Sunday.

You grow weary of roommates and rent checks and, really, no privacy.
That gritty streetscape no longer excites. It’s becomes as gray and
worn as the stinking winos slumped in doorways on South Street.

The bars are overpriced; the exotic cuisine gives you heartburn. You
discover you can no longer stay out all night at the clubs midweek and
expect to give an honest day’s work on a few hours sleep. New music
sounds like cats on crack.

Then, one day, you are in the suburbs. Perhaps at your parents’
house, or a friend who’s settled down and doing well. It’s summer
maybe. The steaks on the grill smell heavenly. The pool water is warm
and crystal. The neighbors are nice. There are gardens and the smell of
fresh cut grass and shade trees and reliable central air conditioning.

This kind of thing is just casting judgments where no judgment needs to be made. If you want a grill and a pool then go
get a grill and a pool already, and don’t make it about turning 29 and seeing black people on the train. There’s nothing wrong with wanting a pool. I look longingly at my neighbors’ on my walk to work every day in the summer. And just last week I was bugging Mr. A about buying a little grill so we could do some barbecued chikkinz and corn. Does that earn me any grown-up points with assholes like this?

Stuff like this makes me crazy not because I feel like everyone should be dodging bullets in an urban hellhole (which daily activity tm Atrios, where I found this stupidity) but because it’s a particular psychological tic that will fuck you in the ass, emotionally speaking, when you least expect it: The casting of choices you make as things beyond your control. You wanted to stay in love with the city, but you turned 29! What could you do? The Indian food gave you heartburn! Somebody broke into your car! It’s not your fault, you just grew up! It was a natural process that everyone goes through!

If you don’t admit that you want what you want because you want it, and that’s enough for you and me and anybody, you will wake up in 20 years confused and pissed at everyone and everything, and that is a party I want no invitation to.


12 thoughts on “Age and Acid Reflux Determine Your Ideal Location

  1. I can’t find the full article – the link only gives me a list of comments with a “no news_id given” at the top, so I’m guessing that’s where the original article should be. From the excerpt, though, I don’t see anything to get excited about (except the thugs and car break-ins, which seem ridiculous). It just reads like one person’s experience: “I liked the city as a young guy, but then I got a bit older and found the suburbs more to my liking, so I went there instead.”
    Does the full article provide the missing context? Because I feel like I’m missing something here and I can’t figure out what it is.

  2. I’m now in my *gasp* mid-forties and I’d lose my frakkin’ mind if I decamped to the suburbs (of Houston’s endless sprawl).
    I was breaking into a rash on Saturday night by even going to my h.s. reunion a couple of miles from my old h.s. – I grew up out in the ‘burbs…I’m not a ‘burb girl. I’m an urb’ girl! (even though I can’t stand Houston…put me in any of the neighborhoods my friends live in in New Orleans and I’d be very content.)

  3. Second the ideas above, also will note that the writer seems to confuse personal self-interest with narcissistic self-centeredness.
    Growing old and don’t like the city anymore? Fine.
    But guess what? Just because you’re getting old doesn’t mean the entire world is (note: I’m no kid myself–I’m 45 and feel every year of it.) The new generation has every right to forge their own path in their own way.
    Also, there are plenty of older people who prefer urban to suburban, myself included. Hell, I live by choice in one of the two urban enclaves in a region aggressively dominated by suburbs. And while I’m not quite there yet, I’m thinking about retirement in New Orleans, preferably in a walkable part of the city.
    Personally, I can’t stand driving cars — too many road warriors and idiots — and don’t understand how someone could deal with that sort of stress every day.

  4. Having spent my last two years of high school in a small town, there is no way in hell I’m voluntarily moving to a place with fewer than 250,000 people that is not a near suburb of a large city.
    And, as far as the car thing goes, Michael, my husband spent a large part of our last two years in NYC cursing out the subways and buses there. Driving to work after all the craziness he went through on those commutes was a relief to him. Then again, we’re both people who don’t freak out incredibly when we’re behind the wheel, largely because in the jobs we’ve had, it’s a relief to be in an environment where no one has a hold on your time…we’re not big fans of being on the phone behind the wheel, either, so it’s not a big whoop to us.

  5. Actually, all the recent data show that cities are gaining population — including from plenty of boomers — while the suburbs are losing.

  6. New Orleans, where you can have a car, but depending upon where you reside, you may not ‘need’ one for daily use. I live in Houston where if you don’t have a car, you get a special patch to wear and are shunned by most of society. I can’t wait to live in NOLA where on most days I could walk to wherever or streetcar it and walk from there. I have been car-centric most of my life – but I am very thankful for my legs – I wouldn’t mind using them more often.

  7. I’m 74, live in a city, and have zero interest in living elsewhere. If I could afford it we would move into downtown, into a high rise building. I just feel more alive where there are lots of people around, doing things, walking the sidewalks, eating out, going to concerts, etc. My experience is that it is the young couples that are moving to the suburbs, probably because my children have done just that. One son-in-law thinks I live in the midst of an urban war, taking my life in my hands anytime I’m not locked in my condo.
    Different strokes for different folks. (I just coined that phrase.)

  8. Writing in the second person can make for interesting fiction, but it’s never not obnoxious in an opinion piece.
    New music sounds like cats on crack.
    I think you mean catsfrom hell on crack, Hoary McHackney.

  9. i’m pushing 40 myself (38, actually) and unlike the Philly writer responsible for the pointless little screed, it took me forever to manage to break out of the suburbs and find a nice place in the central PHX area close to all sorts of nice varieties of people and food that also leaves me connected to any interesting events around the rest of the city. My apartment complex is an odd little oasis of quiet on a busy city street, but the familiar sounds of traffic and life and things happening is never far and thank goodness for that.

  10. I live by choice in one of the two urban enclaves in a region aggressively dominated by suburbs. And while I’m not quite there yet,

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