I was raised in the land of paved streets, sidewalks, streetlights and well-tended yards. Except for a handful of years in the heart of San Francisco (which I dearly loved) that was my environment until I sold my house in North Carolina and hit the road.
Now I spend most of my time on one kind of dirt or another. Out in the boonies. Out in the deserts, mountains, prairies, beaches… I’ve driven on more unpaved roads in the past four years than I had in the previous four decades.
Dirt under my feet seems normal now. The suburbs no longer do. Suburbs are unnatural. They always were. I didn’t notice, though, because I was raised there. Born in captivity. But unlike a zoo animal, I could be released into the wild. Or the semi-wild, anyway.
The transition was easy and painless. One day I was a diligent lawn-mowing, neighborhood-image-maintaining, property-value-protecting member of conformist society who had started realizing he was miserable, and the next I was in the forest, sleeping naked with the doors open. And incredibly happy.
Oh, suburbs are useful, like when I need to buy things. But it no longer feels like home. I’m aware I don’t fit. I don’t have the same concerns and goals. Did I ever, really? What about you?