|Taking Kid home from band practice today, I travelled a route I used to think of as "country". Over the past five years this route has sprouted several tiny strip malls, a school, and more Stepford housing than I care to count.
I hate Stepford houses. "Planned communities." The houses have slightly differing designs, but are of the same color scheme, and are too large for the (usually) two people who live in each of them. You can have a lawn, but the garden has to meet certain standards, and you can't grow your own food. Cars must be of a certain condition, else hidden away in the garage. Any changes to the outside of the property must be okay'd through the homeowner's association. Creativity and individuality are not just stagnated, but actively smothered. And it's spreading because developers have decided that since people are buying into this crap, more is better.
One side of the road has older homes, present long before the fungus across the street popped up in what used to be cornfields and horse farms. One driveway sported a handwritten sign: "Country living is dead. Welcome to the Hood."
I shook my head ruefully, and fought the rising nausea. I'm not the only one.
My path home took me past at least two more signs announcing further encroachment. The car ride had been mostly silent until the Kid, echoing my thoughts as she is wont to do, made a disgusted noise and some comment about "perfectly good farm land." I grinned and agreed, thinking of that same phrase leaving my mother's mouth some twenty years ago.
How will we eat when there's nothing left to grow it on, and the rules dictate what we do with our own backyards? How will we think when the very walls that surround us imprison our bodies as well as our minds?
Suburban sprawl is a disease. I've lived in suburbia all my life, and I still think this is so. I reduce, reuse, and recycle. I try my damnedest to buy locally--but it's getting harder to buy local when there's fewer places to even grow locally. And because this is suburbia, mass transportation is sporadic at best--and fuel is burning away.
War scares me, but since the fighting hasn't yet reached my neighborhood, I can successfully block it out. I can't control it, so I won't worry about it. This, though. This creeping, slithering, greedy devouring. This is in my neighborhood. This is what threatens my life, and my daughter's future. This is what scares me, and what I can't push away from me.