Saturday, July 3, 2010

U-Turns in Suburbia

A while back after we moved, my wife and I were driving around the city, getting to know the lay of the land. We got lost, of course, from time to time. Often this meant we needed to do a U-turn.

This is more difficult than it sounds once you get into suburbia. On country roads, a "yooey" is perfectly acceptable, and in the city, one can merely drive around the block. In a subdivision, however, the roads wind around and sometimes come to a dead end. Suburban planning is built to funnel traffic—home to work, work to home—and is not designed for exploration.

It is not so laid back under the suspicious eyes of the residents as to allow a "yooey" or a turnaround in someone's driveway. However, it is also not structured enough to provide for convenient navigation without a knowledge of the neighborhood's design quirks. In a word, suburbia—like it's residents—is designed to be "cliche-ish."

The solution I often found was to turn around in a church parking lot. They are many and therefore readily available for this convenience. Also, no one is ever there, ironically. Aside from the frequently preachy signage, which suggests the author hasn't thought out who's reading the sign, one's blunder is not scrutinized.

A couple of days ago, I was doing some work at my parent's church, when this train of thought began. During the few hours I was there, three cars turned around in the parking lot! It occurred to me how deliciously symbolic this all is, and reminded me of the one sign that shows that the author did know who was reading his signs.

One of the times I got lost, I pulled into the parking lot of a medium-sized church in an otherwise inconspicuous location on the edge of a subdivision. When I drove into the parking lot, the signage greeted me with the expected type of good-willed message—the kind that is neither too preachy nor preaching to the choir, but generally not memorable.

On the way out, however, I read the back of the sign. There, quietly displayed in the conservative manner befitting a church sign were the words, "God allows U-turns."
FEATURED MEDIA: Weeds - Season One - A dramedy about suburban life, and the people that just don't fit the mold. Nancy Botwin, a newly widowed housewife and mother of two adolescent sons starts selling marijuana to pay the bills. Her descent into this unethical business reveals the darker side of the "upright" citizens and the lighter side of the lawbreakers.

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