The Small Pleasures of Suburbia

Because I am old, I was recently listening to Gerry Rafferty on Spotify. Because I’m not that old, I only know two songs of his: the one from Reservoir Dogs, when the one guy cuts off the other guy’s ear, and what turned out to be “Baker Street.”

I was pretty excited when I found out it was called that, because the mister and I are pretty much obsessed with Sherlock Holmes, in all his incarnations: Sherlock Holmes as a modern-day Londoner, Sherlock Holmes as Angelina Jolie’s ex-husband, Sherlock Holmes as Sherlock Holmes. We’ll take whatever Sherlock Holmes you can give us. And, I suppose I should mention, Sherlock Holmes lived at 221b Baker Street — although if you don’t know that, I don’t know why you’re reading this, as I’ve only got about five readers left and they’re all friends and family. My point is, Mom, why don’t you know where Sherlock Holmes lives? That’s my point.

I discovered the song’s name by Googling snippets of lyrics on the Metro North, on my way into the city. The only part I could remember was, “Give up the booze and the one night stands.” Pretty typical, as you know, if you’ve ever been at karaoke with a bunch of people who think they know all the words to any song from the ’70s or ’80s. It’s a lot of, “Blah, blah, BLAH BOOZE AND ONE NIGHT STANDS.” That’s a pretty A-plus line, anyway, but some of the others really struck me:

This city desert makes you feel so cold
It’s got so many people but it’s got no soul
And it’s taken you so long to find out you were wrong
When you thought it held everything

You used to think that it was so easy
You used to say that it was so easy
But you’re tryin’, you’re tryin’ now
Another year and then you’d be happy
Just one more year and then you’d be happy
But you’re cryin’, you’re cryin’ now

Well, holy shit. I wish I’d done some pre-Spotify Googling earlier. This could have been my theme song during our last year in the city.

When we left Brooklyn, we got distinctly mixed reactions, depending on the location of the person with whom we were speaking. City dwellers tended to act like we’d announced that we were joining Scientology, while suburbanites were most often relieved, like we’d shaken off a debilitating fever. Both had a point.

Personally, I don’t feel like we switched teams or something. We lived in the city for a long time, and enjoyed it for a while, but then the city changed and we changed and it was time to go. Last weekend, I went into Manhattan to have drinks with friends, and the subways were screwed up. That in itself was no big deal — it almost made me nostalgic. What was a big deal was that I walked 16 blocks from Union Square to Nolita, and didn’t see one single bodega the whole time.

This isn’t yet another post declaring New York over. As long as you or I or anyone we know can remember, New York has been expensive, dirty, scary, tough, and just plain not for everyone. But more to the point, it’s not for everyone forever.

In the new place, we have a few things I forgot about during my time in New York:

  • Appliances. So many appliances! Appliances to wash dishes. Appliances to wash clothes. A working refrigerator that was built during this century, and a microwave that lives in the wall above the stove.
  • Central air. TBH, I never had this before in my life, but it is magical. Yesterday, a friend IMed to ask me if it was hot out, and I wrote back, “I DON’T KNOW! ISN’T THAT GREAT?” I’m basically a rich person now, let’s be real.
  • Quiet. I used to have insomnia. Not since the move. I sleep like I’ve fallen into a well filled with hypoallergenic down-substitute quilts.
  • Friendly people. Everyone says hi here in our new town. It only took me two months to believe that they weren’t trying to recruit me to a cult.
  • Grocery stores. Hubley family lore goes that years ago, Great Aunt Tinka arrived from Slovakia and wandered into a grocery store … and nearly refused to go home. Whenever someone asked what she wanted to do today, she’d ask to go to the grocery store, where I assume she fondled the produce until she was asked to leave. Fuck Disney World, Tinka wanted to go to the A&P. I am now Tinka.

It’s pretty nice here, is what I’m saying. It’s been four months, and I have no regrets at all. I’m not saying you should move. I’m just saying, if you do decide to move to suburbia, there’s some pretty nice stuff here.

Published by Jen Hubley Luckwaldt

I'm a freelance writer and editor.

4 thoughts on “The Small Pleasures of Suburbia

  1. i was recently looking for a particular shade of blue nail polish, and I was tickled, when I found it, that it’s named Baker Street.

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