March 1, 2013

Life in "The Burbs"

Suburbs..... I just got back from a week in Virginia. I went there mostly to visit my father. It's been 18 years since I moved to New York City but feels like five. Time has flown. When I first moved away I would come back often, perhaps as many as 5 times a year or more. I missed my town horribly and would take any form of transportation available to get back to Virginia. After hearing my constant complaints of missing home, my best friend Mario once told me that eventually I'd love New York just as much and that one day while visiting Virginia I would miss my life in the city. I scoffed at the thought.

I remember somewhere around 1995 coming back from Virginia and seeing the World Trade Center towers out of the window of the bus and thinking to myself, "I'm so happy to be home." At that moment I remembered what Mario had said and smiled to myself that even though it had taken a year, he was right, I had missed the city.

As the years have gone by I've gone back to Virginia less often. I try to get home every 4 months or so. When my mother was ill a few years ago I went down for weeks at a time, spending a few months there overall until she passed away. I was more than grateful for that time with her and my family.

After this week it finally dawned on me why I have lost so much of my desire to go the place I used to love and call "home". (I still can't think of a better term for it but I'm confused because New York is now "home" to me). When I left Virginia I had a fairly full social life. Weekends were spent with friends going to various events, which usually included hiking somewhere in the mountains of Virginia, Maryland or West Virginia (Harper's Ferry) or music-related activities like seeing a friend's band playing at a local bar. Maybe one in five weeknights were spent with friends having dinner at any number of chain restaurants like Chili's, Ruby Tuesday's or Anita's. Toward the end of my time in Virginia, most of my friends had gotten married and had kids, which curtailed nearly all of their social activity. I became the odd man out. The bachelor who didn't own a home, wasn't married, didn't have kids or a "normal" 9-to-5 job. I felt like a bit of an outcast.

I moved on a whim. My girlfriend at the time had gotten a modeling contract in NYC and asked me to join her. I thought at best it'd be a great adventure and would last a year at most, five years tops. Feeling like I was losing my friends at a rapid pace and my social life was dwindling, I embraced the move north. The first few months were exciting but felt more like an extended version of a weekend high school field trip. It was a huge, confusing, congested city. I found the transit system almost impossible to decipher. And, I was extremely homesick. I had one friend, Mario, in NYC other than my girlfriend. It was a very lonely time for me.

I digress.... When I go back to Virginia now I realize that once I left there was no turning back. Living in New York had quickly made me a different person. A less tolerant person. At the same time a person who expects more out of life than a simple 9-to-5 job, a few kids, an SUV in the driveway and a three-bedroom house with a 30-year mortgage.

I became an addict. I was addicted to all the things that New York offered. There is no boredom in NYC. Walk outside and look around. You can't be bored. Go to any one of the hundreds of galleries, museums, plays or music venues. Eat at any of the ten thousand restaurants. Go to Central Park. Take a walk in Times Square. You can't be bored here.

While at home last week I asked my friends and relatives what was on their agenda for the upcoming week... As they listed their schedules I couldn't help but smile..
Painting the living room
Get the oil changed in the car.
Take the kids/grand kids to -----.
Putting a new set of tires on the Buick
Having friends over for a church dinner
Doing yard work
Going grocery shopping
Taking the dog to the vet
Going to the mall
Going to a winery
Taking a hike along the C&O Canal
Going to Fair Oaks Mall
Going to Tyson's Mall
Going to Springfield Mall
Going to Target and Walmart
Watching the game (fill in type of sport)

What I found interesting that not a SINGLE activity was mentioned that remotely involved creativity...not once. No museums, no galleries, no plays, no musical events, not even a movie... nothing. Even with DC less than a half hour away. People in the suburbs tend to focus on  the following... home repairs, shopping, car repairs, kids, shopping sports, SHOPPING and eating (99% of the time in a chain restaurant).
Now, with that said, I personally don't see anything wrong with these choices, they just don't interest me in the least.

When I got back late Wednesday night I immediately walked in the door, dropped my bags and typed ArtCards into Google where I found ALL the listings of gallery openings for the upcoming week.
Last night "the gang" and I hit at least 15 of the 21 listings. A wonderful night of creative talk, visual stimulation and people watching... I couldn't have been happier. I got my creative art fix. The art junkie in me was satisfied.

And this, and this alone is why I now call New York City  home.

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