Where The Suburbs Don’t Meet Utopia

Pivoting off Dreher’s recent musings on the suburbs, Alan Jacobs considers our dissatisfaction with them:

Suburbs are diverse not just in age but also in population density. There are no “empty” suburbs, of course, or else they wouldn’t be suburbs, but while some disperse their people into spacious lots, others pack them in in city-like ways. The lots here in the older part of Wheaton are large enough, it seems to me, but I can easily walk downtown to have a drink at the pub or buy pastries at the bakery or eat various cuisines. It’s like a gently exploded version of a city neighborhood.

It’s too easy to drive, though, as Rod recently noted. Often I do when I really should walk. In the country you have to drive when you want to go anywhere; in a big, dense city people get around on foot and via public transport. Suburbs are in this respect in-between. And in other respects too. Which is why, I suppose, suburbs are never perceived as either divine or demonic. “Nothing too much,” the suburb seems to say, which means that, though its human dramas exist, and are as meaningful as they are anywhere else in the cosmos, they remain largely inaccessible to our myths.