Just the mention of the word makes me cringe and gives me a headache. I spent many years growing up in the suburbs before moving to Chicago. When I left, I vowed never to return, with the exception of visiting. These few months out here will be the longest visit I’ve made in over twenty years. I haven’t even set foot in much of this area in approximately five years.
It’s been so long and enough has changed, that I really feel like a stranger here. Most of my surroundings feel brand new and foreign and the things that remain recognizable are few and far between. I have become a tourist in my home area. I can’t relate to this place anymore – although I’m not sure how well, or if I ever really did.
Life out here is beige, and it’s offensively inoffensive. It’s all cars, houses that look the same (but without the charm or character of, say, Brooklyn rowhouses), space (things take up a lot of space for no apparent reason), shopping, long commutes, chain restaurants, and television (more on that later). I don’t understand living out here.