For just shy of four years, I lived in Boston in an assortment of apartments. Recently, David and I moved from our "downtown digs" to a house in Framingham. This switch from urban to suburban has been quite interesting. A definition of suburban that always comes to mind is: contemptibly dull and ordinary. An interesting word choice used to define the area of habitats between the concrete jungle and the farms. However, this is how most downtown bostonians would depict the area loosely defined as the "Metrowest." In some ways, they would not be wrong. Boston is a vibrant city. As with most cities, it has a calendar of events full for its various residents. Festivals, Yoga weeks, sailing on the esplanade, shopping Newbury street, catching a play, walking the freedom trail, dancing the night away, cheering on the Red Sox, exploring the neighborhoods, and sidling up to a local cafe are just a few of the perks of Boston. So why leave? It was a difficult decision. Our apartment, while not in the best neighborhood, was located right across the street from a Whole Foods. We were pampered by this proximity and delighted in our neighborhood's charms. Yet, there was something missing: Space. Brighton apartments are not known for being spacious and we packed our life like a jigsaw puzzle into nooks and crannies forcing ourselves and our stuff to fit. After our wedding, we piled up to the ceiling boxes, bowls, and serving plates for guests who would never fit into our one bedroom. Buster and Bella, the puppy loves of our lives, also fought for room to play and rest. It was time to go but the decision to stay in Boston in a larger apartment or leave our beloved city for the burbs was hard until we saw the price.
After much hemming and hawing, we committed and found ourselves out in suburgatory(?) The most striking difference is the lack of local restaurants and cafes. Chain restaurants dot the landscape of the burbs. This is a bit disappointing. While I love a night at the Cheesecake Factory, it is odd to look around and see one chain after another along route 9. Boston proper definitely one-ups the burbs when it comes to local eating spots. But, then again a 30 minute drive to our favorite small business owned joints is not that much of a sacrifice for the upgrade in space.
The primary perk of our new location, however, is also its shortcoming: the physical location. Yes, we are 30 minutes from the city. But, we are also closer to that mystical place known as the great outdoors. While Bostonians pack their bags into Zipcars for a day or two in the woods or a ride out to a local vineyard or farm, we are so much closer to this nature. Therefore,the biggest perk of Suburbs is its location right smack in the middle of urban and rural. And, it is because of this location, that I feel better equipped to journey on this pilgrimage of health and happiness. Recently, I downloaded the app "Locavore." It is a free app in the itunes store that uses a GPS locator to find the closest farmer's markets and farms. And, guess what? Framingham is surrounded!
On Saturday starting in July there is a farmer's market just down the street from our home close enough to walk to, then there is Hanson Farm, Stearns Farm, the Natick Community Organic Farm, and Eastleigh Dairy Farm. It is invigorating to know that I am so close to locally grown food and never knew that the suburbs could offer this to its residents so easily. Starting on Monday, I will be volunteering at Eastleigh Dairy Farm. The farm is currently raising a number of new calves which I will hopefully get some face to face time with. It will also be my first experience with raw milk. While, I will need to sign a disclaimer to purchase and ingest this, and many who I share this information with warn me against, I simply cannot resist trying milk that comes directly from the source without any artificial additives or processes. Similarly, on Tuesday, I will begin working at Stearns Farm. From 9:45AM-Noon, I will be tilling up the soil and helping the local farm do its good work for the community. This will also be the moment when David and I can invest in a CSA for the year. I am looking forward to this most of all.
While, I am sure that I could have had similar opportunities in my beloved city, living out in the suburbs has forced me to branch out of my comfort zone, discover my neighborhood and try something out of the ordinary. For this, I am excited to be living in Framingham!