FALLING INTO DISGRACELAND

FALLING INTO DISGRACELAND

| June 08, 2001
I’m a city girl by design. I like tall buildings and hustle and bustle and the general grit that comes with a city. Conversely, my parents live in a small town in Texas. And when I say small, I mean with two (or is it three?) sit-down restaurants; visiting almost entails paying a scruffy looking guide and traveling by mule. Okay, not really, but it is small; the only place that was ever open past six p.m. was a coffee house -- and it only lasted three months. Anyway, as a self-described city gal, I've always had a bit of disdain for the suburbs. I grew up in one, near Atlanta, and I loved it, because we'd play four-square on the street at dusk or touch football on the Edgertons' front lawn in the summer. But as an adult, I don't play touch football very often. I'm more interested in nightlife and culture now. And, although this point could be argued, I consider myself an artist, or at least artistic, and the suburbs have always seemed a little antiseptic to me. When I first moved to Memphis, I could never find the highway and effectively, just forgot that suburbs existed. Then, and I think this happens with anything unfamiliar, I realized I was a little scared of the suburbs. I’d go out there and I wouldn’t know where anything was and there were tons of cars and all these very clean people around and I'd be out in my cut-offs and flip flops, looking like something the cat dragged in (or threw out, let's be honest), and everywhere I looked I saw miles and miles of shiny, plasticky Targets and cheesy chain restaurants and home improvement stores. I was completely out of my element. This past weekend, though, I went on a mini-break. And I stayed at someone's house ... in a suburb. There was green grass, plenty of parking, a hot tub, and even some preciousness in the form of four tow-headed children playing hide 'n' go seek. It was nice, as I'm sure you can imagine. Then I got back to my efficiency-plus apartment (all the conveniences of home ... except for a bedroom) or as I like to call it, "Planes, Trains, and Automobiles," derived from all the noise that frequently interrupts my important phone conversations and television shows, not to mention my much-needed beauty sleep. Instead I listen to the well-traveled flight path directly over my head and think about bombings. But I digress. I'm back from my mini-break and I'm lugging the dog up the stairs in her kennel and she's crying and I'm thinking, for probably the millionth time this month, how much I'm sure my neighbors hate me. And then I open my apartment door and a swarm of flies comes, well, flying at me, and I scream and drop the dog and she cries some more. (Appearantly, someone forgot to take out the trash before she left on her mini-break.) It’s obvious to me that I'm not ready for a house in the suburbs; I think the forgetting the trash thing makes that pretty clear. I can barely take care of myself, much less one of the largest investments a person can make. And I still feel like I belong in the city, yet the suburbs were awfully nice. I guess this is why people have houses in the Hamptons. I might just have to settle for a hotel room in Cordova. ( Mary Cashiola writes about life every Friday @ memphisflyer.com. You’re invited to come along.)

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