Born in the boroughs, both my husband and I came to East Meadow as our first taste of suburbia in the middle 1990s. From the start, we understood the obvious — we'd be gaining more space and some newly found privacy. What we didn't expect were the simple realities that would go away when we left our one-bedroom, rent-controlled apartment behind. What I didn't expect at the time was that a lot more than our address changed.
Flowers. My spouse's green thumb now had a chance to flex its muscles beyond the philodendron and snake plants that filled huge pots inside our former apartment. Though limited in land, he now had a real garden to tinker with, grass seed, peat moss and all. It was a good thing for me too, as I finally learned the difference between an annual and a perennial and how an azalea bush can fry before your eyes if you underestimate a western exposure.
Laundry. I grew up negotiating the apartment basement laundry room — my mom timing just when to run the washers and dryers with ample quarters to feed the machines while I played in the hallway leading to the elevator. My husband's apartment laundry room was not as habitable, so he taught our three-year-old how to sort clothes and they headed to the coin-operated laundromat every Saturday morning. Now in the suburbs, the private machine hums and the Lev laundry room never closes.
Living like a sandwich. Maybe the best part of suburban living, beyond category-killer retail stores and spacious playgrounds, is the chance to live without residents above and below. Not hearing the details of an argument from above. Not being asked to remove your baby's first shoes because her walking sounds like jackhammers across the downstairs neighbor's ceiling. Now it's just the faint sound of my husband's musing, "Why didn't we get a ranch-style house?,” as he ascends the stairs each evening.
Just before we moved to Long Island, my spouse's co-worker told him of her new suburban life in New Jersey. She measured her good fortune as a new homeowner by the way; she could now vacuum the carpet anytime she wanted, even at 3 a.m. It was not my personal definition of better living, but if it's worth the traffic jams, tight parking lot spaces and increasing property taxes often associated with such a move, then to each her own.
A contributing writer to the Herald since 2012, Lauren Lev is an East Meadow resident and a direct marketing/advertising executive who teaches advertising and marketing communications courses at the Fashion Institute of Technology/SUNY, LIU Post and SUNY Old Westbury.