I grew up, until the 6th grade, on Air Force bases. Perhaps that fact explains another: that I like the suburbs. I like a little bit of lawn, and I like a suburban street in the summer time. I remember a summer when we used to get together with our across-the-street neighbors, sit on their lawn and watch TV. I don't even remember what we watched, but the grass was cool, the air got cooler as the evening wore on, and somehow TV seemed mesmerizingly entertaining because we watched it outside. At that house, when we moved in, the whole subdivision was new--it was west of Airport #2, so close to the west side of the valley that the Oquirrhs seemed, like, your backyard. We planted our trees--cherry trees, peach trees, a Lombardy poplar (known derisively as a trash tree because it grows so quickly) that was in short order the tallest tree in the whole neighborhood. We laid our own sod. It took a couple of years to lay it in the back yard, that's how poor we were. Our Vietnamese neighbors, who made the most awesome egg rolls (they'd deliver a plateful, hot, at Christmas and Thanksgiving, like other people brought cookies), used to borrow our poplar's shade to sit in during their huge family get-togethers.
I can get a little exercised by my very hip peers (maybe I'm not their peers, because I don't live downtown?) who deride the burbs. I hear the complaints, okay, I know that the word "suburb" connotes homogeneity (in architecture, in lifestyle, in politics . . .). And it's not like a tract-style ranch house is exactly inspiring, in the way that an early twentieth-century cottage is. All I'm saying is, don't stereotype my 'hood, man. You don't know me and you don't know my neighbors. Don't lay your hegemonic superior urban fetishization on me. I'll take my cool, late-night backyard with its over-planted flowerbeds, the stripmall around the corner and the school just a couple of blocks away, and the Mormon churches popping up at the rate of one every half-block. I'll take it, because I live here, and I like it.