Friday, January 3, 2014

This Ain't No Barn-Raising

It is fashionable for creative types like myself to be bitter and critical about suburban life and while I went through my teenaged/early-twenties phase of "I am going to get out of this place as soon as I can and wander the world and then live in, say, Paris," I eventually realized that creativity and intellectuality don't have to be urban or ex-patriotic. In fact, by thinking those things, one is just caving-in to the biggest enemy of creative thought: cliche.

In short, I like the suburbs. To flip a maxim, though, I tend to be in the suburbs but not of the suburbs. I have never felt an obligation to participate in local government or to take part in any over-the-fence conversation about the weather I could otherwise avoid. I like to sit in the bleachers and watch my boys play ball; they have me telling them what to do, enough -- they don't need me to hound them about the proper way to snatch up a grounder.

All that said, there are times when I find suburban life to be beautiful. I'm not going to qualify that. My middle-to-lower-middle-class neighborhood is a thing of beauty on a summer night or under a blanket of snow, like today.

But on days like today, I feel the urge to remind those who live around me that we are not Amish and there is no need for a barn-raising. I dread "snow-days" to an extent. What I want to do is shovel my property and go an have a hot cuppa. I don't want to be pulled into a neighborhood effort to clear away the astounding five-inches of snow we got. Sure, I will (and did for years) go next-door and shovel out my elderly neighbor, but I don't want to be dragged, by guilt, into an all-day snow-clearing fest because the guy next to me has a snow-blower and decided to clear my driveway before I was out of my jammies.

It's annoying. And I guess that makes me kind of a jerk. But I can live with that.

I am ready to help and be helped when it is needed, but sometimes it just ain't needed. Now, when I am ready to raise a barn...

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