Even though I like to consider myself an urbanite at heart (despite never actually having lived in an American city) the fact is that I live in the suburbs. And not the cool, close-in suburbs like Arlington, Alexandria or Bethesda — I mean the far-out, hardcore suburbs where you can’t really walk all that many places and your neighbors are all 12 or 42. And the strip malls. Let’s not forget the never-ending strip malls. But that’s OK because after living in Bogotá for two and a half years, I have to say I do enjoy the clean air, the quiet and the abundance of trees and greenery.
I was thinking about my love of greenery this week on my way to happy hour at Dolce Veloce Wine bar in Fairfax City (great wine and pizza deals — don’t bother ordering any of the other happy hour specials). I was walking down Route 50 and got to the bar a little early so I decided to do a little exploring and stumbled upon this lovely, green oasis just a few hundred feet from the road:
I had about an hour before my friends got to the bar so I decided to sit on a bench for a little while and contemplate life. Well, it wasn’t really that deep. Mostly I was contemplating suburban life. For whatever reason, I felt the energy was right at this park. It was maybe 20 by 20 feet with four benches shaded by maple trees. A brick walkway circled the lightly manicured center. My neighbors to the left were an elderly couple with grocery bags and my neighbors to the right were two middle-aged Korean men. On my left was an ordinary, unimpressive strip mall, home to H-Mart, Subway, an AT&T shop, Rita’s and a nail salon; on my right there was a church that appears to double as the Christ Lutheran Evangelical Church and the Korean Blissful Presbyterian Church; in front of me a small parking lot that backs into a row of mid-size auto shops on Route 50 and behind me an aging, tree-lined neighborhood of mostly 1950s ramblers on big lots, some lovingly remodeled and some slowly falling apart. The kind of neighborhood that existed back when Fairfax was a small-town kind of place.
But it’s not all green lawns, trees and old-timey homes. There are some less than scenic sites off Route 50:
All these things are walking distance to my office. I even have this nice, if short, walking path:
To read more about life in the suburbs, click here.