St. Louis is a very clique-ish city for a place that prides itself on being open-armed. You often hear comments like, “we are a friendly city” or “we are a very grounded, down to earth place to live.” The city perceives itself very differently than what it actually projects to the rest of the world looking in.
I moved to St. Louis in 1998. I have lived a lot of different places, big cities, little cities, big towns, small towns, no towns, wide spots in the road. I very much pride myself on having a diverse background of ‘roots’. When I first moved to St. Louis, I lived in the city. Southampton Village. It’s a quaint little neighborhood of full brick cottages and bungalows. It was a small house, 2 bedrooms and 1 bath shared by 4 people. You could nearly touch the neighbors house if you stuck your arm out of the dining room window. In the mornings, I would have my coffee and talk to Gail over the fence. My neighbor on the other side was a baritone singer at the Royale Dump Dinner Theatre. The gentleman directly across the street from us, Steve, is gay, kept a nice yard and gave spectacular hair cuts on his back porch after working the salon all day. We had block parties. The street would be closed, everybody would pull out their margaritas and lawn chairs and talk, sing and dance until the wee hours of the night. Nine years ago, we sold our little cottage in the city. More room, 2 bathrooms (big plus), larger yards, bigger houses.
Be careful what you wish for…
We now live in the suburbs in a subdivision where all the houses look the same. It’s boring. We are the youngest family on the street and our kids are nearly grown. Our neighbors do not talk to us over the fence. They do not wave when we get our mail out of the box. In the warmer months, they manicure their lawns at 7 in the morning and you never see them the rest of the day. In the winter, I don’t see them. They have this weird phenomenon going on that took me a couple of months to figure out. It never snows on their driveways. On snow days(no school) I would get up at 8am, snow on my drive, not on theirs. So the next time it was forecast to snow, I set my alarm for 7am. STILL snow on my drive, but not on theirs. Not a soul to be seen. This went on for a while, every morning setting my alarm earlier and earlier, trying to catch my neighbors clearing their driveways… Bingo… 4am! 3am! Midnight! WTF? It turns out that at the precise time the snow starts to fall, they start to shovel snow and throw out salt. Uggh. I watched from my living room window. Snow starts to fall. Garage doors open. Men bundled in jackets, hats and gloves. Shovels being pushed. It is a strange sight to see at 3am. Everybody trying so hard to keep up with The Jones’ they will give up sleep to try to be the first with the perfectly cleaned, snow free drive.
We get letters from the association.
“The Household & Yard Waste service has notified us that you are not using the issued garbage removal cans. These are included in your subdivision dues. Please use the provided bins as it keeps the uniformity of the neighborhood pleasing to the eye.”
“You need permission from the association to install a clothesline in your backyard.”
“The back side of your vehicle extends into the sidewalk portion of your driveway. Please be courteous of the walkers in our neighborhood and pull your vehicle forward enough to clear the sidewalk portion of your driveway.” (THIS one really burns my ass, because the ‘walkers’ in our neighborhood walk in the street!!!!! so they can walk 3-wide and gab)
Subdivisions Suck. Get a friggin’ life. Be careful what you wish for…
(I think this place might also be contributing to my anti-social behavior)