I really enjoyed this piece in Daily Life from Sarah McDonald, who is a lovely writer:
We could not afford another bedroom or a garden in the inner city and also wanted and needed to be close to our ageing parents. Reluctantly, we became real estate refugees who went back to where we came from – a suburb where the land is cheap(er) and the homes a bit bigger.
So, here I am, one suburb away from where I grew up. I’m in a street with trees, hedges and a Sunday morning sound of lawnmowers blending with the smell of bacon. I’ve submitted. I’ve compromised. I’ve mainstreamed. I’ve become predictable, reliable and sensible. I’ve heard most people die within five kilometres of where they’re born and now I understand how that happens without finding it infinitely depressing.
I’ll confess that inside this gilded coffin I’m a touch frustrated. Most people in my suburb don’t talk about politics, art and religion; the passion of debate is reserved for mean teachers and the inadequate size of the garbage bins. Book club is the closest I get to wild Paris and danger – but the brawl is over who ate all the chocolate almonds rather than the French novel. To take a walk on the wild side I’ve joined a fitness group – but that’s a story for another day.
And yet, when my kids play cricket on the road with the neighbours and the parents share a drink behind the garbage bin wicket, I feel a sense of great belonging. When a local dresses up as Santa and throws icy poles at the street party I understand the childish joy in familiar ritual. When we stop to chat to locals I see childish contentment in the community.
What amuses me about Australia is that few of us actually like to admit we are suburban. And yet most of us are.